For Immediate Release: April 7, 2016
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Brian Coy, Brian.Coy@governor.virginia.gov

Governor McAuliffe Vetoes Bills Weakening Virginia’s Gun Safety Laws

 

Today at an event in Alexandria, Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed three pieces of legislation that would threaten public safety by weakening Virginia’s gun safety laws.

The Governor vetoed Senate Bill 626 and House Bill 766, identical bills that would eliminate application and safety training requirements associated with concealed handgun permits for individuals who have successfully secured a protective order against another individual. The Governor issued the same veto statement below for both bills.

Governor McAuliffe also vetoed House Bill 560, which would weaken Virginia law with respect to the brandishing of a weapon so that, in order to achieve a conviction, prosecutors must prove that an individual not only brandished a weapon, but also knew or reasonably should have known that his conduct induced fear in the mind of another person. The Governor’s full statement is below.   

Senate Bill 626 (and House Bill 766):

April 7, 2016

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 626, which provides that for a period of 45 days after the issuance of a protective order, the person who has issued the order may lawfully carry a concealed handgun.  This bill eliminates the application and training requirements associated with concealed handgun permits and allows petitioners to carry a concealed handgun immediately upon the issuance of any protective order. 

Domestic violence situations can be extremely volatile, and all too often result in serious injury or death.  In fact, when firearms are present in a domestic violence situation, a woman is five times more likely to die.  In 2014, Virginia experienced 112 family and intimate-partner-related homicides, 66 of which occurred with a firearm. 

At the end of February, I signed legislation, part of a bipartisan firearms agreement, that will remove firearms from dangerous domestic violence situations. That bill prohibits subjects of permanent protective orders from possessing firearms and requires them to sell or transfer their firearms within 24 hours. Senate Bill 626 encourages victims of domestic violence to introduce deadly weapons into an already dangerous situation, an approach that I believe could have significant negative public safety consequences. 

Prior to the conclusion of the 2016 legislative session, I proposed amendments to Senate Bill 626 that would allow judges to expedite the concealed handgun permit approval process for individuals who had already given serious consideration to the risks and responsibilities associated with concealing a handgun and completed all necessary training requirements.  These amendments were rejected. 

Accordingly, I veto this bill. 

Sincerely,

 

Terence R. McAuliffe 

 

House Bill 560:

April 7, 2016 

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 560, which would amend the law related to brandishing a firearm and provide that, in order for a person to be convicted under the amended statute, the person must know or reasonably should know that his conduct induces fear in the mind of another person.  

The Code of Virginia currently prohibits a person from pointing, holding, or brandishing a firearm in such a manner as to induce fear in the mind of another person. Virginia’s courts have interpreted this language to mean that it is not enough that someone inadvertently witnesses a person with a firearm—there must be additional evidence that the person with the weapon actually intended to induce fear in the mind of the witness.  

Making the change requested in this bill would create unintended consequences for prosecutors and law enforcement officers attempting to secure convictions for violators of this law. This proposed modification would unnecessarily burden our public safety officials and potentially create a defense for individuals who recklessly handle firearms.  

Pointing, holding, or brandishing a firearm in a manner that induces fear in the mind of another person is irresponsible and dangerous behavior and should be appropriately addressed within our criminal justice system.  Because current law provides clear guidelines for our law enforcement personnel without creating unintended consequences that could lead to unsuccessful prosecutions, House Bill 560 is unnecessary. 

Accordingly, I veto this bill. 

Sincerely,

 

Terence R. McAuliffe 

 

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