Category Archives: Gun rights

Virginia’s Plan to Attack Gun Violence — Will It Survive?

by David Toscano

It has been [a month] since the shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, took 31 lives and once again crystallized the need for more effective measures to combat these outrages. It is not clear whether Congress can summon the will for even the most minor of reforms, but our leaders need to transition from “thoughts and prayers” to real policy change if we are ever to combat the scourge of gun violence in this nation. Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner recently called on Congress to enact the “Virginia Plan” of gun violence reforms, based on major changes made in the Commonwealth in the 2020 and 2021 legislative sessions.

Virginia Has Seen Its Share

Virginia has neither escaped the carnage of mass shootings nor the heated debates about what to do about gun violence. The 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech left 32 dead, and another 12 were killed during the 2019 shooting in Virginia Beach. Neither involved AR-15 style weapons (the killers used semiautomatics, but they were pistols). The Virginia Tech tragedy prompted creation of a government commission that brought only minor change. But Virginia remained a strong gun-rights state into the 2010s.

The school shootings at Parkland drew further attention to the issue. The Republican Speaker of the Virginia House grudgingly convened a special committee to address school safety, but then prohibited it from discussing guns. Following the Virginia Beach shootings in 2019, Governor Northam called a special session on gun violence; Republicans adjourned it in 30 minutes with no action. Continue reading

Thinking About Gun Control

by Bill O’Keefe

After each mass shooting there is an outcry for Congress to do something. In 2021, there were almost 21,000 murders involving guns and almost 700 mass shootings (those involving four or more victims).

There has been no responsible action at the Federal level because Congress seems more interested in political food fights then in taking action that can make a difference. Henry Clay once observed that politics is not about ideology; it’s about governing, and if you can’t compromise you can’t govern. Congress in the existing political environment can only compromise by accident.

The fact that Congress is paralyzed is no reason for states to avoid taking action.  In the last few years, the Virginia General Assembly has passed several gun laws.  These laws, which created a backlash in a number of counties, imposed universal background checks on gun sales, created extreme risk protective orders that allow authorities to temporarily seize guns from people deemed dangerous, required gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms, restored the former one-handgun-a-month law and boosted penalties for leaving guns accessible to children. Continue reading

A Proposal to Mitigate Gun Violence

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

In an interesting development, one of the so-called “progressive” Virginia prosecutors has identified a direct link between someone committing misdemeanor offenses and later committing violent felony offenses.

The misdemeanor offenses that are predictors are gun offenses. After tracking  violent case histories, Ramin Fatehi, the commonwealth’s attorney for Norfolk, as reported by WAVY TV, “found it was often a pretty straight shot between low-level gun misdemeanors and violent gun felonies.” This applied both to folks pulling the trigger and those being shot.

Fatehi mentioned a number of gun misdemeanors, but said that a leading predictor was carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. In the several examples of violent crimes involving guns that he cited, all the perpetrators or victims had prior gun misdemeanor charges. Some of these charges had been dismissed or set aside. Continue reading

Instant Background Checks for Gun Purchases – What is Checked and Who Populates the Databases?

by James C. Sherlock

The FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is much discussed and little understood by the general public.

In an effort to help, this article will inform readers about the NICS Indices, what information is kept there and how it gets there. The information here about the NICS is quoted or adapted from the FBI descriptions of the system it runs.

Then we will look at Virginia background checks specifically.

You will find that the utility of the data used for such checks, and thus who is sold or is not sold a gun by a licensed dealer, varies a lot.

It depends to a great degree upon the prosecutorial philosophy and policies of the Commonwealth’s Attorney where the buyer was raised and has lived since reaching adulthood. Continue reading

Gun Control Debate Survives Invasion and War

by James C. Sherlock

The gun control debate survives invasion.

Ukraine. A user survey survey last week in Ukrainian government e-portal ‎Diia (1,726,452 participants in a pre-war population of 40 million) showed most Ukrainians express a desire to freely own weapons for personal use.

  • 59% are in favor of the free carrying of weapons;
  • 22% – categorically against;
  • 19% – believe that it is possible to have a weapon, but not carry it with you.

Ukraine is the only country in Europe where firearms are not regulated by statute. I suspect that the Russian Army finds that regrettable. Everything related to firearms is regulated by Order №622 of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Citizens are permitted to own non-fully-automatic rifles and shotguns as long as they are stored properly when not in use. Continue reading

A Gun Owner’s Suggestion for Virginia Gun Laws

By James C. Sherlock

I was a career military man.

I am a conservative and a gun owner. As a younger man, I won competitive awards for marksmanship with both rifle and pistol.

I own a semi-automatic Glock for home protection.  I train regularly and at almost 77 can still hit what I aim at.

With that introduction, I have a couple of suggestions for gun legislation in Virginia that I hope will draw condemnation from both the left and the right so that I know I have it roughly right.

I have four criteria for firearms legislation:

  • changes that can matter to the safety of children and law enforcement officers;
  • changes that can deter criminals from use of a firearm in the commission of a crime;
  • changes that do not disadvantage the average citizen’s possession and use of firearms; and
  • changes that can pass Second Amendment review in federal court.

Those are, as a group, difficult needles to thread simultaneously.  They should be.

This article involves semi-automatic long guns – rifles and shotguns.

Continue reading

A Continuation of the Gun Debate

A Select Fire (Semi Auto / Full Auto) Glock 17

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

James Sherlock yesterday brought up a case in which a man in Virginia Beach had pleaded guilty to possessing a machine gun; in his case, it was a modified Glock. The maximum sentence for the offense is 10 years.

There was a robust discussion, primarily on the Second Amendment in general and the laws of New York. I would like to focus the discussion a little more and a fresh post seemed the best way to do that.

Because the case was the subject of a DOJ news release, I assume that the case was in federal court. But that does not matter for the purposes of the questions I want to pose for discussion, particularly by those who are defenders of the Second Amendment.

  1. Do you think that a weapon such as the one described, a Glock modified to function as a machine gun, should be illegal?
  2.  The press release said that the defendant pleaded guilty to possessing a machine gun. The maximum sentence under the law is 10 years. Assuming that this is the only offense for which he is being convicted in this case (the press release would have mentioned any others, it would seem) and assuming that he does not have a criminal record of convictions for breaking any other gun laws or violent offense, how much time, if any, do you think he should get?

Norfolk Shoot-Out on Granby Street

by Kerry Dougherty

In March of 2021, the Virginia Beach oceanfront was the scene of a shooting spree that left two people dead.

Last weekend, Norfolk’s Granby Street experienced something similar.

These shootings shock the senses, especially when innocent people are among the victims.

At least one of the Granby Street victims was a bystander, Sierra Jenkins, a 25-year-old Virginian-Pilot reporter. At the Beach last year 28-year-old Deshayla Harris was also killed by a stray bullet.

The deaths of both of these young women who were simply doing what young people have always done on a spring Saturday night were unspeakably tragic.

No sooner had the Granby Street shoot-out happened than headline-grabbing politicians announced their plans to deal with “gun violence.” Continue reading

Three More Proposals to Reduce Gun Violence in Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

There was extensive commentary on my post yesterday that recommended expanded use of stop and frisk in an attempt to reduce gun violence. Given the demonstrated interest in the subject, I offer three suggestions that go further.

Increase federal prosecutions. Federal laws, penalties, detention hearings and prosecutions are a far more formidable deterrent to street use of guns than their state and local counterparts.

Virginia should increase its referrals of firearms violations to federal authorities in the same manner and using the same joint task forces as it does with drug violations.

Criminals do not have to be rocket scientists to understand the differences in consequences between prosecutions under state or local laws vs. federal firearms laws. Their lawyers will explain it to them.

Let Virginia Attorneys General prosecute gun crimes directly without local concurrence. The far left is conflicted between their hatred of guns and their desire to reduce prison populations. When they speak of gun control, they generally do not mean no bail and heavy sentences for gun crimes.

I will go out on a limb and suggest that perhaps a woke Commonwealth’s Attorney plea bargaining a felony gun crime down to a misdemeanor is not the way to reduce gun violence. Continue reading

Terry McAuliffe — Call Him Crazy

by Kerry Dougherty

OK, Terry, you asked for it. We’re going to call you crazy because the notion that it’s easier to buy a gun in Virginia than it is to vote is insane. And clearly that’s what you’re implying with your silly Tweet. So here’s a little quiz to test your knowledge of Virginia gun and voting laws:

Do you have to be 21 to vote? (You have to be 21 to purchase a handgun.) Nope.

Do you have to pass a criminal background check to vote? Nope.

Can you vote if you’re insane? Yep.

Can you vote if you have a history of domestic violence? Yep.

Can you vote if there’s a protective order against you involving a spouse or former spouse? Yep.

Can you vote if you’ve been convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery of a family member? Yep.

I could go on. Continue reading

Chase Aide Pulls Gun in Self Defense

Screenshot from Chase attending the pro-Trump rally at the National Mall Jan. 6.

by James A. Bacon

Sometimes Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, goes out looking for trouble. Sometimes trouble comes looking for Amanda Chase.

Yesterday the Washington Post published an account of an incident in which Chase’s aide brandished an AR-15 pistol at a man whom Chase said threatened them during a road rage incident. My immediate reaction upon reading the story was, “Oh, no, here we go again. More bat-dung craziness from Trump in Heels.”

By the time I finished reading the story, I was thinking, “Wow, good thing they had a gun!”

The Republican gubernatorial candidate and two aides had departed a campaign event in Virginia Beach and were “somewhere around Norfolk,” heading home when the incident occurred. Continue reading

Criminal Law and Public Safety Bills of Interest

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

Despite recently having a special session to devote to criminal justice reform, the General Assembly has a healthy docket of criminal law and public safety reform bills to consider this session. I have selected a few to highlight below. Unless otherwise noted, the bills are still in their original committees.

Democratic Priorities

Elimination of the death penaltySB 1165 (Surovell—Fairfax), HB 1779 (Carter—Prince William), and HB 2263 (Mullin—James City). The Senate bill has been reported out the Senate Judiciary Committee (why do they insist on changing longstanding committee names?) and is in Senate Finance (being a creature of habit, I will continue to use the former committee name, rather than Finance and Appropriations). Continue reading

Facebook, MailChimp Suspend Virginia Gun Rights Group’s Access

Philip Van Cleave. Credit: Rappahannock News

by James A. Bacon

Are the social media giants moving beyond de-platforming groups and individuals who participated in the mob assault on the U.S. Capitol building to de-platforming conservative groups indiscriminately?

Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), says his personal Facebook account was suspended last week. That action followed Mailchimp’s suspension of its email service to VCDL. Continue reading

Merle Rutledge and America’s Coming Political Realignment

by James A. Bacon

Permit me to introduce you to Merle Rutledge, the Republican candidate for governor that no one is talking about. To be sure, his chances of winning the nomination are just about zero, but that’s no reason to pretend he doesn’t exist. Personally, I find his candidacy intriguing — not because I share his views, which I find extreme, but because of the light he sheds on an important political dynamic that isn’t getting nearly enough attention.

According to Essence magazine, 18% of black men voted for Donald Trump for president. That’s astonishing. Those voters didn’t attend elite universities like the people purporting to speak for the black race you see on CNN or MSNBC. They tend to be working class and middle class, they tend to be culturally conservative, and they, like their white counterparts, are worried about America’s fraying culture and the bankruptcy of Democratic Party prescriptions for society. Continue reading

The New Face of Virginia’s GOP

Amanda Chase. Credit: Scott Elmquist, Style Weekly

By Peter Galuszka

If ever one photo best describes what 2020 was like in Virginia, this shot, by the brilliant veteran photographer Scott Elmquist at Style Weekly, shows it.

The photo is of state Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, at a July 4 rally at the capitol. Her defiant expression, the assault-style rifle and the over-the-top elephant skirt tell you what has become of the Virginia Republican Party, which hasn’t won a statewide public office in about a decade.

Chase is a pistol-packing, foul-mouthed, tough-talking show girl who is running for governor and backs the dangerous authoritarian tendencies of outgoing President Donald Trump. Chase is so extreme that her county GOP kicked her out.

Republicans were still so frightened of her that they decided to hold conventions and not a primary to decide between her and Kirk Cox, a more moderate politician and perhaps anyone else who runs. Now Chase has announced she will run as a Republican. Doing so gives her a leg up. Continue reading