Gov. Ralph Northam chose public safety as a priority for Virginians, issuing his first veto of 2019 by rejecting a bill backed by Republican Delegate Brenda Pogge, R-James City.
The proposal would have required the automatic issue of concealed handgun permits to non-residents if the Virginia State Police isn’t able to review their applications within 90 days.
Let’s quickly take a look at what this bill would have actually meant in practice:
Imagine your crazy Uncle Bob moved to Virginia for work for six months, but didn’t become a resident. Now also imagine that Uncle Bob was a gun fanatic who had a criminal record.
Under this law, if the Virginia State Police was unable to fully review his application within 90 days, he would’ve been granted the right to purchase a gun by default. Critics argued that this was a risky move.
Gov. Northam agreed, citing public safety concerns in his veto declaration, while also adding that the proposal “not only places an arbitrary and burdensome mandate on the Virginia Department of State Police, but would also undoubtedly result in ineligible nonresidents obtaining permits.”
The bill had previously passed through both chambers along a party-line vote (50-49 in the House and 21-19 in the Senate). It’s unlikely the bill’s Republican supporters will be able to gain the two-thirds vote needed to override Northam’s veto.
Pogge, while not surprised by the veto, said her goal was to reverse the “institutional bias for private citizens to have handguns,” while lamenting that it currently takes 120-150 days to obtain an out-of-state handgun permit.
“The question is, why can’t they get a background check done in 90 days? It’s just foot-dragging, and the bill was an attempt to make these things faster, because they can be.”
That’s one explanation. The other is that Republicans remain more committed to expanding gun access than protecting Virginians. They’re also more stubborn than your crazy Uncle Bob when it comes to enacting any forms of gun safety measures, as they’ve rejected numerous bills sponsored by Democrats.