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General Assembly Veto Session Wrap-up

Thu, 04/06/2017 - 12:51
Photo by Richmond Times-DispatchThough it is disappointing, it is not completely unexpected that Governor McAuliffe's vetoes of several firearm related bills were upheld, as attempts in both the House and Senate fell one or more votes short of an override.  Here is how the Virginian Pilot described it:
At veto ceremonies, Gov. Terry McAuliffe often calls himself the “brick wall” against what he calls bad bills delivered by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

GOP lawmakers didn’t have enough sledgehammers to break down that wall Wednesday during a one-day session in which lawmakers handled budget amendments and addressed the governor’s vetoes.

And now, McAuliffe is the most successful brick wall in Virginia history – 111-0 in vetoes.

That’s 21 more vetoes in an administration than Gov. Jim Gilmore’s 90 in the late 1990s.

McAuliffe also takes the single-year record with 40, beating Gilmore’s 37 vetoes in 1998.Votes were largely along party lines on the 40 vetoed bills, but some Democrats did join with Republicans in a few votes.  The one bright spot was McAuliffe's attempt to reinstate handgun rationing failed.  Unfortunately, the underlying bill, SB1023 will likely be vetoed now that the substitute was returned as being unconstitutional.  Governor McAuliffe said after all of the firearm bill vetoes were upheld:
“We blocked bills that would have injected firearms into volatile domestic violence situations, making victims less safe, not more. Others would have created an unwarranted expansion of persons allowed to carry concealed handguns, including service-members considered by the military as unqualified to bear arms to be issued a concealed carry permit.

“While we successfully stopped legislation that would have threatened the safety of Virginians, I am disappointed that the General Assembly did not reinstate Virginia’s One-Handgun-a-Month law. The legislature’s ill-advised step to repeal this common-sense policy has made Virginia a go-to state for criminals to purchase weapons in bulk again. You needn’t look further than the 627-count gun-trafficking indictment earlier this month that included 22 Virginians. One of those suspects even bragged on a police wiretap about how easy it was to acquire guns in Virginia. By preventing the reenactment of this rule, Republicans have ensured the Commonwealth will continue a negligent approach to preventing gun crime.”The Second Amendment related bills that were vetoed are:

HB1432/SB1347 Switchblade knife; exception to carry concealed.
HB1582/SB1362 Concealed handgun permits; age requirement for persons on active military duty.
HB1852/SB1299 Concealed handguns; protective orders.
HB1853/SB1300 Victims of domestic violence, etc.; firearms safety or training course.

SB1023, a bill that limited the sharing of concealed handgun permit holder information with states that do not have reciprocity with Virginia, was amended in the nature of a substitute to reinstate handgun rationing and was an effective veto as McAuliffe knew it was not going to be approved.  Because the State Senate ruled the change to the originating bill was unconstitutional, it now goes back to the Governor where he will likely veto the underlying bill.  McAuliffe has previously vetoed similar legislation.

Yesterday illustrates how important it is that gun owners band together to elect a pro-gun governor this year.  We have passed a number of pro-rights bills in the last four years only to see them vetoed by McAuliffe.  Now is the time to elect a pro-rights Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General so that we can go on offense in the next General Assembly and pass into law the bills that McAuliffe has vetoed, as well as pass other pro-rights legislation.

Unintentional Firearms Deaths Fall to New Lows While Sales Reached New Highs

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 13:12
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has the story here:
Good news on the topic of fatal firearms accidents. The National Safety Council’s “Injury Facts—2017 Edition ” shows that the number of fatal firearms accidents dropped 17 percent from 2014 to 2015 to 489, the lowest total since record-keeping began in 1903. That’s about three-tenths of 1 percent of the 146,571 total accidental deaths from all other listed causes, which are up 8 percent from 2014 to 2015. It should be noted that the decrease, which was the largest percentage decline of any category, came in a year that saw record firearms sales to many millions of Americans.More evidence, as NSSF states in their post, that gun owners are responsible when storing their firearms.  It's also due to efforts of firearm safety training and programs like NSSF's Project ChildSafe.

NSSF recently released a new public safety announcement from their Bureau of Justice Assistance funded Project ChildSafe Communities initiative, Safety is a Habit.  The numbers prove for gun owners, it's a true statement.

McAuliffe Substitutes Handgun Rationing for SB1023 CHP Privacy

Tue, 03/28/2017 - 12:20
Photo by Richmond Times-DispatchIn the final day to act on 2017 legislation, Governor Terry McAuliffe sent back an amendment in the nature of a substitute to SB 1023, Senator Richard Stuart's bill to protect the privacy of Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) holders when they are traveling in states that do not have reciprocity agreements with Virginia.  The Richmond Times Dispatch has more:
In a statement announcing the proposal, McAuliffe, a Democrat, cited a 627-count indictment that charged 22 Virginians with running more than 200 guns bought in Virginia north to New York and selling them to an undercover officer. One of the suspects was overheard on wiretaps mocking Virginia’s gun laws, saying he could buy as many guns as he wanted.

McAuliffe said in a statement: “One-handgun-a-month was enacted almost a quarter century ago to counter Virginia’s shameful reputation as the gun-running capital of the East Coast. Five years ago, the General Assembly took the ill-advised step of repealing this commonsense limitation. As a result, Virginia is once again becoming the go-to state for criminals to purchase weapons in bulk.”

The governor’s proposal elevates the repealed law as a political issue in an election year, but it will likely face a hostile reception when the General Assembly reconvenes for the April 5 veto session.

McAuliffe is seeking to tack his amendment onto Senate Bill 1023, sponsored by Sen. Richard H. Stuart, R-Stafford. Stuart’s measure would bar sharing information regarding Virginia concealed-handgun permits with law enforcement in states that do not recognize a Virginia concealed-handgun permit as valid. The bill already passed both chambers of the General Assembly.

Stuart called it unfortunate Monday evening that he hadn’t seen the amendment. The governor’s office announced it late Monday afternoon.

“I also find it unfortunate that the governor chooses to place his priorities with New York City instead of the citizens of Virginia,” Stuart said in an email. “This bill was to protect Virginians that are in lawful possession of a firearm from being arrested by out-of-state jurisdictions that don’t give reciprocity to our concealed-carry permit. The bill very simply is designed to protect the people that are playing by the rules.”Delegate Todd Gilbert is correct that this is just a political stunt.  SB1023 passed by veto proof margins in both the House of Delegates and the State Senate.  It is not clear those margins would have held had McAuliffe just vetoed the bill but he clearly wanted to try and continue to score political points off of the New York gun traffickers a couple weeks ago.  The amendment has little chance of succeeding.

I'll be on NRATV talking more about this with Cam Edwards of NRANews Cam and Company at 2:40 today.

Waiting on McAuliffe to Act on Handful of Gun Bills

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 15:30
Photo by Richmond Time-DispatchGovernor Terry McAuliffe has until Midnight Monday to act on several pieces of legislation of interest to gun owners.  The bills are:

HB1852/SB1299: Carrying concealed handguns; protective orders, Authorizes any person 21 years of age or older who is not prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm and is protected by an unexpired protective order to carry a concealed handgun for 45 days after the protective order was issued. The bill provides that if the person issued the protective order applies for a concealed handgun permit during such 45-day period, such person will be authorized to carry a concealed handgun for an additional 45 days and be given a copy of the certified application, which shall serve as a de facto concealed handgun permit. 

HB1853/SB1300: Victims of domestic violence, etc.; firearms safety or training course, Creates the Virginia Firearms Safety and Training for Sexual and Domestic Violence Victims Fund. The bill provides that the Department of Criminal Justice Services may distribute funds from the Fund to reimburse an entity that offers a firearms safety or training course or class approved by the Department free of charge to victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, stalking, or family abuse. 

SB1023: Concealed handgun permits; sharing of information. Prohibits sharing of information regarding Virginia concealed handgun permits in the Virginia Criminal Information Network with law enforcement in states that do not recognize a Virginia concealed handgun permit as valid in the state. The bill requires the Department of State Police to maintain and publish online a list of states that recognize a Virginia concealed handgun permit as valid in the state. The bill does not create a private cause of action.

The Governor has previously vetoed bills similar to HB1853/SB1299, and SB1023.  There is still time to make your voice heard on these bills.  You can contact the Governor's office and urge him to sign the above bills at 804-786-2211 or by email by clicking here.  

Update: Shortly after this was originally posted, VSSA received a press release from the Governor's office that he has vetoed HB1852/SB1299 and HB1853/SB1300

VSSA Shooters in Florida Highpower Competition

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 13:37
Two VSSA high power rifle shooters competed in the Orange Blossom Regional earlier this month in Malabar, Florida.
VSSA High Power Chairman Mike Jamison shot with member Jon Howell in the 2 man team match, and they won!  Mike also shot with Brad Sutherland in the 4 man team match, which they also won!  Steve Weast shot with the Bridgeville Delaware 4 man team, and they took second place in their class.
Congratulations guys!

RTD's A. Barton Hinkle Explains What's Wrong With Gun Rationing

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 11:51
It didn't take long after it was reported that 22 Virginia residents were involved in a firearm trafficking scheme and arrested by New York City authorities for people like Governor Terry McAuliffe to call for the reinstatement of handgun rationing:

Last week, the Richmond Time-Dispatch opinion writer A. Barton Hinkle had a column titled "Maybe it's time for gun owners and Muslim advocates to join hands."  Hinkle combined two issues into one to make the case that throwing a wide net to deal with bad people often negatively impact the majority who don't do bad things more than it impacts those who do.  On the gun issue, I found this to be a strong argument in response to Governor McAuliffe:A few things about the story bear noting: Two of the ringleaders are violent convicts. Some of the bulk firearm sales were effected through straw purchases, which are illegal. And shipping the guns up to New York also is illegal. That is, after all, why authorities were able to bring charges in the first place.

This should chasten gun-control advocates, since it shows that the system works: Guns were seized and bad guys charged, and a successful operation makes an odd basis on which to build a case for even more restrictions. But the outcome also should chasten gun-control opponents, since laws against gun-running and straw purchases are part of gun control. Not every attempt at gun control is an abject failure.

Yet a bigger point needs drawing out. The trouble with the one-gun-a-month law is that it truncates the rights of all Virginians, in order to thwart the designs of a minuscule minority who want to run guns to New York. To the ordinary gun owner in Virginia, who follows the law and leaves other people alone unless they mess with him first, it must seem brutally unfair to restrict his right to keep and bear arms because of something somebody else did, or might do in the future.Current laws worked.  Law enforcement caught a lot of bad actors.  And, they did so without the rest of us having to have our rights infringed.

Kendall Rhodes Receives Award from Amateur Trapshooting Association

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 10:15
On Saturday March 18, 2017, Kendall Rhodes received an award from the Academics, Integrity and Marksmanship (AIM) Program, the official youth program of the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA). The award was for earning first place in the 2016 Junior Class Trapshooting Competition (age 15-17) for the Virginia AIM/ATA target year. Trapshooting is one of the three major disciplines of competitive clay pigeon shooting (shooting shotguns at clay targets).
The award was received from Billy Wood, Virginia State AIM Program Director. It was presented to Kendall by Jon Yagla, Shotgun Chairman of the Northern Virginia Gun Club (NVGC), King George County, VA at their March Meeting. The award was a beautiful personalized Leather Gun Bag.

In the 2016 season, Kendall shot in AIM/ATA approved matches at the NVGC and The Virginia Trapshooting Association (VTA) Homegrounds, Winchester Gun Club, Stephenson, VA. Her NVGC mentors were Jon Yagla and Richard Dodson, longtime ATA Competition Shooters. Kendall is currently working part time and attending Germanna Community College.

Gabriella Hoffman: Let Victims of Domestic Violence Conceal Carry in Virginia

Wed, 03/15/2017 - 10:47
Gabriella Hoffman, a conservative blogger and media strategist, wrote in Monday's Richmond Times Dispatch that Governor Terry McAuliffe should sign two bills currently sitting on his desk, HB1852 and SB1299, which would allow victims of domestic violence to carry a concealed firearm without a permit for 45 days.  If they apply for a concealed handgun permit during that time, they would get an additional 45 days from the date of the application.
Two bills sitting on Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s desk — House Bill 1852 and Senate Bill 1299 — would make it easier for victims of domestic abuse to protect themselves. If signed into law, these bills would allow anyone seeking a protective order to temporarily carry a concealed handgun without a permit. Virginia already allows law-abiding citizens to carry a firearm openly without a permit. The bill would protect a woman from criminal prosecution if she placed her handgun in her purse or under a jacket. It just makes sense.

In Virginia, a person seeking to carry a concealed handgun must get a state-issued permit. The process requires submitting an application to your local circuit court, paying a $50 fee and consenting to a background check. Under Virginia law, the state has up to 45 days to process a CHP application. That waiting period is often too long for victims of domestic abuse.

In March 2014 a 43-year-old mother of five in Loudoun County, Michelle Castillo, was found murdered in her home, allegedly at the hands of her estranged husband. Last April, a Leesburg mother of three, Christina Fisher, was shot to death at her home, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend. Last November in Big Stone Gap, 38-year-old Janina Jefferson was allegedly murdered by her ex-husband. What do these three cases have in common? The murdered women each had a restraining order against the men who allegedly killed them. All three women might be alive today if they had been able to protect themselves with a concealed handgun.Last year, McAuliffe vetoed similar legislation saying:
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.That bill allowed any person 21 years of age or older who is not prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm under state or federal law and is protected by a protective order for 45 days after such order was issued or until such order expires or is otherwise dissolved by the issuing court, whichever occurs first. If the individual applied for a concealed carry permit during that time, the exemption would be extended for an additional 45 days until the application was processed.  So, McAuliffe is presuming that everyone that may take advantage of the statute would just get a gun and not be trained in how to protect themselves.  Remember that even a hunter safety course qualifies someone in Virginia to apply for a CHP so McAuliffe is on thin ice on the training issue.

In his veto message, McAuliffe also referenced the compromise that restored the reciprocity/recognition agreements with 25 states which had been ended by Attorney General Mark Herring in December of 2015.  Part of that agreement included legislation that required abusers that were subject to a protective order to get rid of their firearms (to date 28 firearms have been turned over to law enforcement) as a reason SB626 would be unnecessary, as if someone bent on doing harm is going to comply with the law.

Gun owners need to contact the Governor's office and urge him to sign both HB1852 and SB1299.

Even Bloomberg's "The Trace" Understands Falling Gun Sales Represent a "New Normal"

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 12:05
They say even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then and that must also mean that even Bloomberg's mouthpiece "The Trace" can read background check data and see that lower background checks still means that more people are buying guns than three years ago.
As we pointed out yesterday, the FBI is out with its gun background check data for February — the first full month since the NRA-friendly administration of President Donald Trump took office. On first pass, the numbers, which are the most commonly-cited proxy for gun sales, suggest that the firearms industry has settled into what some analysts are calling a "Trump slump." ( Or, if you prefer, "Trump trough.") While Barack Obama was in the White House and Hillary Clinton was campaigning for it, exaggerated fears of strict new regulations sent some gun fans rushing to stores to stock up while they still could. Now that the fever has broken, demand is slipping: The total number of checks completed by NICS fell to 2.2 million last month, from 2.6 million in February 2016. It’s the third month in a row to end with a year-over-year dip.

But a dive into historical background check stats shows that the gun business is hardly in a freefall. The recent numbers are low only when compared to the unprecedented stretch that lasted from May 2015 through November 2016, during which new monthly background check records were set 18 months in a row. Yes, February 2017 was down, but not by that much: The FBI still processed more background checks last month than in any month before the Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012.The Trace pointed to Ruger CEO Michael Fifer's response to questions from Business Insider for the industry's perspective on the numbers:
"I think we've kind of seen the story before where you'll get a big politically-driven spike: they tend to be fairly short and they're followed by an offsetting decline in demand for a while, and then everything's returned to what I would call normal. You've got the same factors driving interest. You've got more concealed carry in more states. You've got more new shooters coming along. You've got – generally, it's more socially acceptable to admit to your friends that you actually like guns and enjoy having them, and by the way, come look at the newest one I just bought, let me show it to you.

All that stuff drives demand. And in some municipalities, you have the cops backing off. They're being seen by the media too often as the enemy. And so, they're backing off, and crime rates in those cities are soaring to the roof. Those people could care less who's President. They want to defend themselves.

So, all of those drivers come back, so every time you have a really tiny spike or some political reason, it's usually offset. I think we could be observing that now. And then it returns to normal. And I don't think any of the other reasons have changed, so I doubt that the new normal will be materially lower than where we were going before.

It appears to me, if you look over multiple years, that there's wider acceptance of guns, wider availability. There's more exciting, new products from all the competitors, not just Ruger. There's more reasons to have guns now than ever before. And so, I'm not going to read too much into the current situation."Looking at those background check numbers, you get a picture of what the "new normal" is:
It's all about changing with the market, and it appears that is what the industry is doing.  NSSF has even offered suggestions for dealing with the new times in what will be a four-part series "From the Counter" where they talk with retailers to get a sense of how they are dealing with the new environment.

Just a little anecdotal evidence, I was purchasing a new handgun last month and there were six other people doing the same on the week night evening I was doing so, two were a husband and wife and both purchased a handgun.  The guy behind the counter said he could not believe how many people had been in on a Wednesday night to buy a gun.

Last Chance to Get Friends of NRA Gun Raffle Calendar

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 11:27
The Friends of NRA 2017 Gun Raffle Calendar is still available for sale but this is your last chance to purchase a calendar that gives you the opportunity to be entered in a raffle for a gun every week between now and February 2018.
No calendars will be sold after March 31.  Click the image above to purchase a calendar.

HotAir.com: Brady Gun Shop Law Suit Sets Dangerous Precedent

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 11:46
VSSA's Executive Director sent this article to me earlier today about a settlement in a lawsuit filed by the Brady Campaign against a gun shop in Missouri that sold a firearm to a woman whose mother had warned should not be allowed to buy a gun.  Jazz Shaw writes while the situation is a tragedy,  it's a dangerous precedent that may create a template for future suits:
As with most liberal causes, the Brady campaign is seeking to exploit the tragedy experienced by this family for their own benefit. We see the same tactics used in the debate over illegal immigration, where liberal groups find the most heart wrenching example of a child being separated from their parent in an attempt to pluck at the sensitivities of voters. The case of Ms. Weathers is indeed a tragedy which should be a call for action, but not the sort which the Brady campaign is seeking.

Something went desperately wrong in Janet Delana’s family, but it wasn’t the fault of the gun shop. As the article documents, Colby Sue was not some marginal character with a few questionable incidents on her record. She had, by the family’s own admission, been in and out of mental hospitals on numerous occasions and demonstrated worrisome if not outright dangerous behavior. This is clearly not the sort of person who should be purchasing firearms. But whose responsibility is it? Colby Sue had people who cared about her and were clearly worried about both her safety and the safety of others. How is it then that this young woman was not brought before a court and adjudicated as mentally unbalanced? Even more to the point, she obviously was not receiving all the treatment that she needed to deal with her psychosis. Shaw links back to the Washington Post article that tells the complete story of what unfolded leading up to this tragedy.  The gun shop, likely on the advice of their attorney and their liability insurance carrier settled the suit before it went to trial.  It is one of the rare successes for Brady in such cases.   Shaw points out what the real problem was in this case:
The case of Colby Sue Weathers does highlight a problem, but it’s the fact that mental health services in this country are still woefully inadequate and the families of mentally ill persons need access to a lot more education and resources when dealing with their afflicted family members. The result of this lawsuit will unfortunately open the door to all sorts of additional mischief on the part of gun grabbers. Using this case as precedent, all they need to do is find out when someone is thinking of making a gun purchase and begin calling around to gun shops and making false claims that the person is “crazy.” This will put business owners in a quandary where they have no good options left while doing nothing to help the mentally ill who are truly in need of assistance.

Putting Those Reports of Colt Layoffs in Perspective

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 10:10
You may have seen posts on several firearm blogs late last week about Colt laying off staff at several company facilities.  Today, Mark Keefe adds some perspective to the stories at NRA American Rifleman:
It probably should've happened a while ago. News started leaking out last week that there have been layoffs at Colt’s Manufacturing Co. in West Hartford, Conn. Like many other companies that ramped up when demand was high over the past few years, Colt has been laying off employees, reportedly at least 10 percent of the workforce over the first quarter of this year—and Colt isn’t alone in that.

And many assumed the sky was falling for an entire industry. Well, Chicken Little, put your Big Bird pants on and remain calm. First of all, the Colt Custom Shop has not been closed. It’s under new management. We’ll get to that in minute.

Of course, there is less demand for the principal product manufactured by Colt’s. And that is the M4/AR platform. I say “less demand,” but what I really mean is less frenzied, artificially inflated demand caused by activist anti-gun presidential candidates and an Oval Office hostile to the rights of law-abiding Americans who own firearms. Interest in the semi-automatic AR platform is likely higher than ever, but there is little in the way of external political forces motivating buyers to pick one up today.

I just received an excerpt from my friend Steve Fjestad—he owns the Blue Book of Gun Values and is in the process of completing the 38th Edition—in which he lists the hundreds and hundreds of makers of the AR platform. That's a pretty crowded market. There is a race to the bottom with ARs retailing for less than $500, and as one Colt official told me, “We can’t and shouldn’t compete in that space. That’s not what Colt does.” That's good, because Colt simply cannot.We are likely going to see a lot of changes in the industry as the market continues to settle down in a "less frenzied" environment.  The antis are going to make much of this but it should be expected without the constant attacks we endured from the Obama administration the last four years.

Vote for Ginny Thrasher - Semi-Finalist for the AAU Sullivan Top Amateur Athlete in America Award

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 08:30
Virginian Ginny Thrasher is a semi-finalist for the AAU Sullivan Award recognizing the top amateur athlete in America. Thrasher, a 19-year-old NCAA national champion and member of VSSA affiliated Arlington/Fairfax IWLA (AFCIWLA), represented the U.S. in Rio, earning the country's first gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in the 10m air rifle. She defeated her veteran opponent in the finals by a full point, a wide margin in perhaps the Games' most precise sport. Thrasher is a West Springfield High School grad, currently attending WVU, and a prodigy from the early days of the AFCIWLA Sills Air Range. Her mom Valerie is an air rifle coach and her dad Roger is the Sills Air Range manager.
The AAU Sullivan Award has been presented annually since 1930 to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. Representatives from the AAU created the AAU Sullivan Award with the intent to recognize amateur contributions and achievements from non-professional athletes across the country.

World-renowned golfer Robert “Bobby” Jones received the inaugural award in 1930 and swimmer Anne Curtis became the first female to accept the award in 1944. Other notable athletes to win the award include famed Olympians Mark Spitz (1971), Carl Lewis (1981), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1986) and Michael Phelps (2003). Former UCLA basketball star Bill Walton (1973), University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning (1997) and Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott (2014) have also earned the prestigious honor.

Vote now for the 87th AAU James E. Sullivan Award. You can vote once every 24 hours.

Ginny Thrasher: https://aausullivan.secure-platform.com/a/gallery/rounds/1/details/121

Rob Pincus' I.C.E. Training Coming to Richmond Area

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 12:33
Firearms trainer Rob Pincus is bringing his Two Person Armed Defense (TPAD) and the 1 Day Combat Focus Carbine (CFC) training courses to Doswell, VA (Hanover County) on April 12-13, 2017.

The TPAD course is intended for two people to register together, (couples, co-workers, friends, etc) who are generally both armed and interested in learning about how to coordinate their efforts in a worst case scenario. The training will draw from law enforcement, military and security team training and be applied to the context of personal defense in the public space as well as being at home or in the workplace. It is suggested that students take a Combat Focus Shooting (CFS) Course from an Active I.C.E. Certified Instructor prior to TPAD to get the most out of this training, though it is not a prerequisite. Topics to be covered include:
  1. Review of Fundamentals of Defensive Shooting 
  2. Communication, Coordination & Cooperation, the Three C's of Teamwork during a Dynamic Critical Incident 
  3. Danger Areas & Fields of Fire 
  4. Dealing with Multiple Threats Efficiently 
  5. Coordinated Strings of Fire 
  6. Shooting in Defense of Others (including children) 
  7. Movement to Cover & Evasion 
  8. Home or Workplace Defense Planning 
  9. Emergency Trauma Medicine Basics 
  10. Immediate Aftermath of a Shooting 
  11. Other topics driven by student questions, context and gear.
You will need a pistol, 3 magazines, holster, and a minimum of 400 rounds.

The CFC Program applies the principals of the Combat Focus Shooting Program to the world of semi-automatic rifles, stressing efficiency, working with what the body does naturally and training in context. The CFC is a progressive and dynamic course. Students will engage in a variety of shooting drills and maneuvers designed to make their shooting (sighted and unsighted) more intuitive. In addition to the fundamentals of close quarters defensive rifling, students will be guided through handling techniques, transitions to back up weapons and understanding how a variety of factors affect their balance between speed and precision with a carbine. Improvised shooting positions for heightened precision capabilities (smaller targets & ranges out to 150 yards) will also be covered.

Students should plan on 450 rounds of ammunition for this course-400 rifle and 50 pistol. (Students are welcome to bring extra ammunition, as there will be certain drills where round count can easily be increased.)

For more information on the training, cost, and registration, click here and here.

Registration Open for 19th Annual VSSA's Crush'n Clays

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 12:37
Registration is now open for the 19th Annual VSSA's Crush'n Clays.  Not only is Crush'n Clays the longest running shooting charity that supports the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, but also the longest consecutive running charity shooting event in the country! Over the last 18 years, this event has raised over $320,000.  Proceeds from the event help support the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the largest pediatric research facility in America established solely for the study of childhood cancer and other catastrophic diseases including pediatric AIDS and sickle cell anemia. Entries may now be made online.   Credit Cards are accepted. If you prefer to pay by check, you can also download an entry form and mail it to the VSSA office. Credit card payments must be completed online.  But hurry, this event has sold out the last three years and is expect to sell out again this year.

VSSA Seeks Candidates for Board Elections

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 10:54
Every year, three seats on the the VSSA Board of Directors are up for election.  VSSA is seeking candidates for this year's election.  Candidates must be either a VSSA Life Member or have been a member for five consecutive years.  The nominating committee is seeking candidates who have an interest in various shooting disciplines, but who especially have an interest in continuing a strong state association.  If you are interesed in running for this year's Board elections, please contact Tom Ciarula at: Tom.Ciarula@myvssa.org or contact the VSSA office at [email protected]  Interested persons can also download a candidate petition by clicking here.  Petitions must have the endorsement of five(5) VSSA members in good standing and must be received by the VSSA office no later than June 1, 2017.

"Smart Gun" Exec Agrees With NRA That Mandates are Bad

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 10:22
The gun ban lobby likes to blame the firearms industry and the NRA for the difficulty that so-called "smart gun" manufacturers have had getting their projects to be accepted by the market.  The fact is The NRA and the pro-rights community have no problem with advances in technology in firearms, they just don't want there to be legislative mandates that those be the only guns that can be sold and purchased, like was done in New Jersey several years ago.  The NRA is not the only group wary of such mandates, law enforcement is wary too.

Today, Bloomberg's anti-rights mouthpiece The Trace, has a story about a newer model of the Armatix "smart gun" that it hopes will ease the concerns of law enforcement.  The original model was chambered in .22.  This new model is 9MM:
The German gunmaker Armatix has built a prototype of a 9mm semiautomatic pistol, the iP9, that it says should ease concerns from law enforcement and the public at large that firearms equipped with technology that prevents unauthorized firing may be unreliable.

The gun looks like a slightly futuristic, streamlined version of the semiautomatic pistols that have been standard police sidearms for the past three decades. In addition to using a wristwatch equipped with a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip that unlocks the iP9 to fire when it is within 10 inches of the weapon, shooters can activate the gun on a smartphone app, which works at a longer range than the watch (the exact proximity is still being decided) and collects data on the number of rounds fired.

The company has also turned the gun’s pistol grip into a PIN pad. Users who don’t want to rely on a watch or their phone can unlock the gun by squeezing their fingers in sequence, which will enable the weapon to be fired until the same code is re-entered to turn it off.

The new weapon is the closest any company has yet come to a personalized version of the 9mm, single most popular type of handgun in the United States, carried widely by police and civilians. The company believes the iP9’s caliber, and technological improvements, give consumers a product they can actually use — and trust.Anyone with an IPhone or Android smartphone that utilizes the fingerprint security feature knows that it can fail in everyday use if you don't put your finger on it just right.  Now imagine if you had to do it in a life and death situation at a moments notice.  You can see why law enforcement and everyday gun owners would be wary of legislators, most of whom know nothing about firearms mandate that you must trust your life to a piece of compute technology that can fail any time.  I'm not so sure that using a PIN code would be any easier in a similar situation.  It's one thing for a reporter to demonstrate it under no stress and get it to work.  It is something else to do it under stress when a misstep could cost you your life.

According to The Trace via Al Jazeera, Armatix is hoping to overcome these fears by trying the new model out on law enforcement first to get their buy-in, hoping that the general public will follow.  One law enforcement member Al Jazeera talked to said it's a scary thought that police officers would be used as guinea pigs. Add to that the cost of the gun (the .22 model cost $1800) and you can see the technology has a long way to go before gaining acceptance of the general public.

But the most interesting part of the article came in the last line when Wolfgang Tweraser, the CEO of Armatix’s American subsidiary, he too opposes any kind of smart gun mandate:
“I agree with the NRA,” he said. “I don’t think there should be a mandate. Armatix doesn’t want to be at odds with other gun manufacturers.”Seems even Tweraser understands the market better than the gun ban lobby and gun ban politicians.

Wall Street Journal: Waiting on Gorsuch

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 10:26
Last week the Wall Street Journal had a great editorial on the recent 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision gutting the Heller Decision and the Second Amendment.  The editorial points out why millions of Americans who otherwise had doubts about Donald Trump ended up pulling the lever for him:
If you want to know why millions of Republicans voted for Donald Trump despite their doubts about his values or policies, look no further than Tuesday’s ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on gun rights. The 10-4 en banc decision shows how a liberal Supreme Court majority would eviscerate the Second Amendment.

The Fourth Circuit is one of several appellate courts that Barack Obama remade over eight years, and in Kolbe v. Hogan the liberal majority upheld Maryland’s Firearm Safety Act. That law bans firearms such as the popular, semiautomatic AR-15 rifle that gun-control advocates call an “assault weapon.”

The Supreme Court’s landmark D.C. v. Heller decision in 2008 upheld an individual right to bear arms, explicitly for guns in “common use.” But the Fourth Circuit’s judicial progressives didn’t let a mere precedent stand in their political way. They concocted a new “military use” legal test. Politicians can ban a firearm, they ruled, if a judge determines that it is “most useful in military service.”A post on this blog last week shared both Senator Ted Cruz's and Second Amendment Attorney Steve Halbrook's thoughts on the judicial acrobatics the majority performed in their opinion. Both pointed out how the court ignored the fact that hundreds of thousands of Americans own and use AR-15 rifles for a number of lawful purposes.  The Wall Street Journal editors recognized this too:
This is also how a liberal Supreme Court majority would have gone about overturning Heller if Hillary Clinton been able to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Mr. Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch means that a new majority will soon be in place to reinforce Heller, and a good place to start would be to take the Fourth Circuit’s Kolbe ruling and reverse it after Mr. Gorsuch is confirmed.The lower-courts have pretty much ignored the Heller and McDonald decisions and the Supreme Court's reluctance to take additional cases to put the lower courts in their place have not helped the situation.  This latest assault on gun rights by the 4th Circuit illustrates why President Trump needs to immediately fill the 18 seats currently open on federal appellate courts.
From Wall Street JournalAs noted on this blog previously, when Obama took office in 2009, 10 of 13 appellate courts had majorities appointed by GOP Presidents. Now nine of 13 have Democratic-appointed majorities. Not that a Republican appointee is automatically pro-rights because there were several in the majority opinion last week but you can bet most all of Obama's appointees are anti-rights.  Obama appointed 55 appellate judges in eight years, about one-third of the total. As the Journal noted in it's closing paragraph, President Trump and Republicans need to make filling the vacancies on the court a priority while they still have a Senate majority.

The Lawless 4th Circuit Decision on Maryland "Assault Weapon" Ban

Fri, 02/24/2017 - 12:22
Earlier this week, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision that guts both the Heller Decision and the 2nd Amendment.  As conservativereview.com noted after the decision:
Inevitably, the courts overlook the most foundational of rights that are written in plain English — the ones that serve as the foundation of our republic. Last week, it was a state court in Washington violating the property and conscience rights of those who don’t service homosexual ceremonies. Today, it is the courts infringing upon the one right that pre-dated the Bill of Rights and is written in the most unambiguous and absolute terms: “shall not be infringed.”

As is always the case, after conservatives secured a 2-1 victory at the Fourth Circuit last year against Maryland’s “assault weapons” ban, the full en banc panel upheld the law. In a 10-4 ruling – one which was full of vengeful rhetoric over Sandy Hook and ignorance of the distinction between a machine gun and a ‘scary looking’ semi-auto — the court ruled that Maryland could ban 45 commonly held weapons as well as magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. “We have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war that the Heller decision explicitly excluded from such coverage,” wrote a brazen Judge Robert B. King. Every Democrat appointee except for Judge William Traxler (who wrote the dissent) and one GOP appointee joined the majority opinion.The 4th Circuit used to be one of the most constitutional constructionist of the 11 circuits but the eight years of Obama have completely destroyed this court that covers the part of the nation that includes Virginia.  Yesterday, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz discussed the lawless nature of the decision at the annual CPAC conference.
VSSA Life Member and Second Amendment Attorney Steve Halbrook also discussed the decision on NRATV.com on Wednesday.  Halbrook said that no military in the world uses the rifles banned by Maryland; they are sporting rifles. He explained that the decision is filled with errors. There is a fundamental distinction between fully automatic and semi-automatic. Further, the en banc review abandoned strict scrutiny in favor of the intermediate scrutiny balancing test. It completely rejects the Heller decision. 

Once again we see the importance of elections and why we need to get behind President Trump to undo the damage done to the lower courts in the last eight years.

Legislative Update

Fri, 02/24/2017 - 08:17
The Virginia General Assembly adjourns tomorrow and action on all of the firearm related bills is completed with the exception of the approval, amending, or rejecting by the Governor.  Governor Terry McAuliffe has already vetoed two self-defense related bills, one gun related and one knife related, and the House passed by the attempt to override that action until the reconvened session scheduled for April 5.

This year saw a number of bills that continue to create a separate class of citizens related to concealed handgun permits (CHP), adding retired conservation officers, former attorneys and assistant attorneys of the Commonwealth and retired probation, workers' compensation commissioners, and parole officers to those who can either carry concealed without a permit or who are exempt from the fees required to obtain a CHP.  What has basically occurred over the last several years is creating a group of retired law enforcement personnel that get exemptions from the requirements that the rest of of have to follow.  This could all be avoided if the General Assembly would pass Constitutional Carry, giving Virginians the option to carry without a permit, while preserving the permit process so that those who want to carry outside of Virginia can still do so.  Bills doing just that were approved by the two main committees that deal with firearm related matters, only to be sent to the money committees to be killed.  This must end!

There were some important bills that did pass, two, as mentioned above have already been vetoed, and others are awaiting action by the Governor.  Those bills are:

HB 1432 Carrying a switchblade knife; exception. Authorizes any person to carry a switchblade knife concealed when such knife is carried for the purpose of engaging in a lawful profession or lawful recreational activity the performance of which is aided by the use of a switchblade knife. The bill removes switchblade knives from the list of weapons the selling, bartering, giving, or furnishing of which is a Class 4 misdemeanor. - Vetoed by Governor, House will attempt override on April 5, 2017.

HB 1466 Renewal of concealed handgun permits; notice. Provides that if a clerk has an electronic system for the application for and issuance of concealed handgun permits and such system has the capability of sending electronic notices to a permit holder, the clerk shall send the permit holder an electronic email notice that the permit will expire at least 90 days prior to such expiration. Approved by Governor Effective July 1, 2017

HB 1582 Concealed handgun permits; age requirement for persons on active military duty. Allows a person at least 18 years of age but less than 21 years of age to apply for a concealed handgun permit if he is on active military duty or has received an honorable discharge from the United States Armed Forces or the Virginia National Guard and has completed basic training as a part of his military service. Vetoed by Governor, House will attempt override on April 5, 2017

HB 1852 Carrying concealed handguns; protective orders. Authorizes any person 21 years of age or older who is not prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm and is protected by an unexpired protective order to carry a concealed handgun for 45 days after the protective order was issued. Approved by House and Senate, Governor has until March 27 to act.

HB 1853 Victims of domestic violence, etc.; firearms safety or training course. Creates the Virginia Firearms Safety and Training for Sexual and Domestic Violence Victims Fund. The bill provides that the Department of Criminal Justice Services may distribute funds from the Fund to reimburse an entity that offers a firearms safety or training course or class approved by the Department free of charge to victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, stalking, or family abuse. Approved by House and Senate,  Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, March 27, 2017.

HB 2325 Application for a concealed handgun permit; photo identification. Requires applicants for a concealed handgun permit to present one valid form of government-issued photo identification issued by a governmental agency of the Commonwealth or by the U.S. Department of Defense or U.S. State Department (passport). The bill removes the requirement that the application be made under oath before a notary. Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, February 24, 2017

HB 2369 Concealed handgun permit; change of address. Replaces the requirement that a concealed carry permit holder present proof of a new address with a requirement that the permit holder present written notice of the change of address on a form provided by the Department of State Police for a court to issue a replacement concealed handgun permit due to a change of address. Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, February 24, 2017

SB 1023 Concealed handgun permits; sharing of information. Prohibits sharing of information regarding Virginia concealed handgun permits in the Virginia Criminal Information Network with law enforcement in states that do not recognize a Virginia concealed handgun permit as valid in the state. The bill requires the Department of State Police to maintain and publish online a list of states that recognize a Virginia concealed handgun permit as valid in the state. The bill does not create a private cause of action. Approved by House and Senate,  Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, March 27, 2017.

SB 1299 Carrying concealed handguns; protective orders. Authorizes any person 21 years of age or older who is not prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm and is protected by an unexpired protective order to carry a concealed handgun for 45 days after the protective order was issued.   Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, March 27, 2017
SB 1300 Victims of domestic violence, etc.; firearms safety or training course. Provides that the Department of Criminal Justice Services may distribute funds from the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Victim Fund to reimburse an entity that offers a firearms safety or training course or class approved by the Department free of charge to victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, stalking, and family abuse. The bill also requires that, upon the issuance of a protective order, the petitioner for the order be provided with a list of such approved courses or classes. Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, March 27, 2017
Legislation similar to SB1023, HB1852/SB1299 and HB1853/SB1300 all passed in 2016 but were all vetoed by the Governor.  Gun owners should contact the Governor and urge him to sign all of these bills.  Also contact your Delegate and Senator and urge them to override the Governor's veto of HB 1432 and HB 1582.
Finally, as has been the case for over 20 years, all of the gun ban lobby supported legislation was defeated this year, all during the first half of the session.  We have been able to kill bad legislation but the Governor has vetoed a number of good bills during his three years in office.  If we want to go on the offensive and enact good legislation, we need to elect a pro-rights Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General this year.  That is what is at stake in this year's statewide elections.