Virginia Gun Carry Deal More Expansive Than First Reported

Virginia to honor permits from all states

Terry McAuliffe
Terry McAuliffe / AP
February 1, 2016

New details revealed on Friday show the gun carry deal between Virginia Republicans and Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.) is more expansive than first reported.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), one of the state's leading gun rights groups, said in an email to its members that the deal would not only restore the 25 reciprocity deals Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D.) had planned to eliminate but also expand Virginia's recognition of gun carry permits to all states.

The deal also pushes back the attorney general’s reciprocity deadline from Feb. 1 to March 1 and will require the attorney general's office to enter into any reciprocity agreement offered by any other state, removing the discretion that allowed Herring's unilateral action.

Though the deal requires Virginia to recognize gun carry permits from all states, it does not mean that all states will honor Virginia's permits: Some states require a formal agreement for them to honor another state's permits. The deal's requirement that these agreements be granted to any state seeking one would make Virginia's permit one of the most widely recognized in the country with at least 33 states honoring it, including New Hampshire, Georgia, and Colorado for the first time.

"To many CHP holders, CHP reciprocity is a HUGE deal, especially if they travel out-of-state regularly and want to be able to carry discreetly," Philip Van Cleave, president of the VCDL, said in the email. "For example, there is no solution to carrying in South Carolina if we don’t have an agreement between our two states."

The gun rights group said it had been involved in the crafting of the deal. However, it cautioned that while they considered the deal a good one it is still being negotiated.

"Things could still go south as the key bills that make up the deal work their way through the legislature and onto the governor’s desk," Van Cleave said. "VCDL will be monitoring the deal’s progress, watching for changes that negatively affect gun owners."

The fragile state of the deal was on full display early Friday when, as the Washington Post reported, it was called off for a short time due to concerns over how one state senator had portrayed it in the press.

A compromise on the details of two key provisions salvaged the deal: The penalty for somebody carrying a firearm while subject to a permanent protective order was increased from a misdemeanor to a felony and set a 60 day deadline for the Attorney General to enter into reciprocity agreements with every state that offered one to Virginia.

Gun control advocates criticized the deal on Friday.

"Gov. Terry McAuliffe is about to cave to the NRA on one of the gun lobby's highest priorities," Jennifer Herrera, the Virginia chapter lead for Moms Demand Action, said in an email to supporters. "The governor is being pressured into accepting a dangerous bill that would allow people from states with virtually non-existent gun safety standards to freely carry hidden, loaded guns here in Virginia."

It is unclear if the deal will be signed into law before the March 1 deadline or if Virginians will see a temporary lapse in reciprocity. The attorney general office did not immediately respond to a request for clarification on the process.