Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.) vetoed a bill on Friday that aimed to allow victims of domestic violence to carry concealed firearms without obtaining a permit.
House Bill 1852 would allow anyone in Virginia who has a protective order and is over 21 to carry a concealed firearm without a permit for up to 45 days after the order is issued. It would then give anyone with an active order an additional 45 days to carry concealed should they apply for a permanent concealed-handgun permit, which can take up to 45 days to process. The person with the protective order would be required to show police the order or permit application and photo ID if stopped.
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Governor McAuliffe noted in a statement that the bill bypasses the training and background check requirements associated with obtaining a Virginia concealed handgun permit and said it would make domestic violence situations worse, not better. "The bill perpetuates the dangerous fiction that the victims of domestic violence will be safer by arming themselves," he said. "It would inject firearms into a volatile domestic violence situation, making that situation less safe, not more.
"In 2014, there were 112 family and intimate-partner related homicides in Virginia. Sixty-six of those deaths were with a firearm. I will not allow this bill to become law when too many Virginia women have already fallen victim to firearms violence at the hands of their intimate partner."
McAuliffe's office did not respond to questions about whether the governor believed victims of domestic violence should ever arm themselves or what victims, especially those located far from police stations, should do if they find themselves in life-threatening situations.
Gun-rights advocates who championed the bill decried the governor's veto and said it would likely cost innocent lives.
"Governor McAuliffe claims we don't need to introduce a gun into a ‘volatile situation,' where there is a protective order in place," Philip Van Cleave, the Virginia Citizens Defense League's president, told the Washington Free Beacon. "He's completely wrong. That situation is exactly where we DO want to introduce a firearm. Knowledge that the victim is armed is a great incentive for the aggressor to stay away."
Van Cleave said the first 48 hours after a protective order is issued are the most crucial time for a potential victim to be armed.
"Protective orders really enrage the aggressor and the vetoed bill would have allowed the victim to be fully armed, yet in a discreet manner, even during those initial 48 hours," he said. "Sadly, the governor's veto will likely cost innocent lives."
The bill passed by a vote of 63-31 in the house of delegates and 26-14 in the senate. A veto override would require a two-thirds majority in both houses.
"Victims of domestic abuse should be free to protect themselves with more than a piece of paper," Catherine Mortensen, a spokesperson for the NRA's lobbying arm, told the Beacon. "This bill would allow a victim of abuse who already has a protective order to immediately protect herself with a concealed firearm. Governor McAuliffe is siding with the gun control lobby that funds his campaign over victims of abuse who want more than a piece of paper to protect themselves."