Virginians Flock To Concealed Carry Classes As Gun Control Advances
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File

As Democrats in the state legislature continue their push to restrict the right to keep and bear arms in Virginia, more Virginians are responding by embracing their Second Amendment rights. In Danville, Virginia over the weekend firearms instructor Barry Creasy reported one of the largest concealed carry classes he’s taught in thirty years. From WSET-TV:

He says his class size increases when people feel their gun rights are not being protected.

“People are concerned because some of the proposals are actually going to restrict guns that people have owned for over 40 to 50 years,” Creasy said.

Virginians have every reason to be concerned, and not just about HB 961, the sweeping gun, magazine, and suppressor ban that’s been filed. The state’s Democrats are also pushing bills that would ban common ammunition and make it harder for gun owners to access indoor and outdoor ranges.

In fact Del. Dan Helmer, a northern Virginia Democrat, has not only authored legislation that would force the NRA range in Fairfax, Virginia to close, but is also pushing a bill that would undo reciprocity agreements with two dozen states across the country. At the moment, Virginia recognizes every state’s concealed carry license, but under Helmer’s legislation the state’s attorney general would have the authority to rescind recognition. As Kerry Picket of the Washington Examiner reported recently, if the bill becomes law it could have a devastating impact on the ability to bear arms in the state, and for Virginians who travel to other states as well.

“This is certainly more restrictive than the current process, which recognizes everyone’s permit. He can start saying, well, for this reason or that reason, I’m not going to recognize their permit now,” Virginia lawyer George Lyon of Arsenal Attorneys told the Washington Examiner.

Lyon noted, ”There are provisions where people can be denied a permit. For example, if they’ve had a stalking conviction or if they’ve had a drug conviction or possibly multiple DUI convictions.”

Other states may have different training requirements as well, which under Helmer’s bill would be all that’s needed to end reciprocity agreements with other states, and that could impact Virginians too. If Virginia doesn’t recognize West Virginia’s concealed carry license, for example, West Virginia may not recognize Virginia’s concealed carry license. That could ultimately drive down the number of concealed carry holders in the state.

On the other hand, a bill that would limit handgun purchases to one-per-month that’s passed out of Virginia’s senate contains a provision that exempts concealed carry licensees from the gun rationing plan, which could lead to more Virginians obtaining their concealed carry license if the exemption remains in whatever bill gets to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk.

For now, the surge in attendance for concealed carry classes is another sign that Virginia gun owners don’t plan on surrendering their rights anytime soon, despite the efforts by Democrat lawmakers to turn those rights into privileges. Expect more full classes and long lines at gun stores in response to the anti-gun efforts at the state capitol.