On Friday, the Virginia House of Delegates passed HB 1852, which would allow victims of domestic violence the ability to conceal carry before obtaining a concealed carry permit. Under the bill, any person over the age of 21 who is not prohibited from purchasing, possessing or transporting a firearm, would be legally protected by an unexpired restraining order while they apply for a concealed carry permit. The victim would be allowed to conceal carry for up to 45 days after the restraining order was issued, giving he or she enough time to apply for a permit.
Currently, Virginia law prohibits anyone from conceal carrying a firearm unless they have a permit, which can take up to 45 days to go through the approval process.
“The essence of this is that we want to empower people, especially women, who find themselves in a position where they are in fear of their lives, to be able to protect themselves in a manner that they see fit,” bill sponsor Delegate C. Todd Gilbert (R) told WTVR.
Delegate Mark Levine (D), however, believes this bill would cause more damage to victims.
“No one wants to protect victims of domestic violence more than I, but one of the things that people tell me that practice in this area is that, increasingly, the abusers are seeking to muck with the system, are seeking to seek protective orders,” Levine told WTVR. “The judge issues the protective order, and then, even if it’s prohibited under federal law … the clerk simply sees the order and the guy can now concealed carry and can do a lot of damage.”
Delegate Rob Bell (R), seems a bit divided on the issue.
“Now, let’s assume (Del. Levine) is right and that it’s not right for many – maybe even most – maybe 80 percent would not want it, don’t need it, shouldn’t have it. That leaves a huge percentage of women who are saying, ‘Please, let me do it.’ And, with respect, some people are saying, ‘Now listen little lady, we know better than you what’s right for you,'” told WTVR.
The bill passed the House with a 64-31 vote. It is now headed to the state Senate to be voted on.