My wife took the VA Safety Course required to get her CCP yesterday. I am and have been a VA CCP holder for about 2 1/2 years now. The reason for this writing, and I apologize in advance if I get verbose, is that she got what seems to me to be very odd advice with regards to concealed carry in an establishment that serves alcohol for on-premises consumption.
In the Commonwealth of VA, we cannot, per the law, carry concealed in any establishment that serves alcohol for consumption on premises. However, being an open-carry state, the conventional practice is to switch to an open carry posture. Most places are very reasonable about this.
However, the instructor told my wife (and the rest of the class) to carry concealed in these environments. Huh? He then went on to cite a (recent, I'm assuming) court case involving several members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (abbreviated VCDL herein) in which upon open carrying in a restaurant, police were called, they ended up in court and subsequently lost CCP priviledges forever because they "incited fear" and were "brandishing" their weapons. The instructor then went on to say that the options one has are: 1) carry concealed, despite the law, and said the section that outlines this situation is written vaguely anyway, 2) leave the gun in your car, which, I think we can agree, is less than ideal.
A few of my thoughts. Anyone who's attended a gunshow or NRA event in Virginia has doubtlessly run into these characters from the VCDL. With apologies to any VCDL members who don't fit my forthcoming description, frankly, these people give "normal" gun advocates a bad name. In my experience, they have adopted some paramilitary appearance, wearing surplus BDU's or tacti-cool gear, Hi-Tech boots, etc. They set up tables with literature outlining doomsday predictions about the government or other evildoers plotting to destroy our way of life as we speak. Worse, they ALWAYS have young kids with them, also dressed to the 9's in some strange ensemble of militaria and spouting the same drivel the adults are, though coming out of childrens' mouths it smacks of right-wing brainwashing. Again, apologies to people belonging to this organization if I've misrepresented you, perhaps you should more closely vet those chosen to represent you at gun shows, etc.
Anyway - I can certainly see patrons of a restaurant getting excited if a largish group of militia-esque people carrying sidearms walks into the restaurant and, if experience is any indication, loudly and indignantly reciting their rights when asked to remove their weapons.
But what about just me, or me and a friend, who, being normally dressed, switch to an open carry posture upon entering such a restaurant? I'm normally decently dressed and go out of my way to not advertise that I'm carrying by keeping my arm against my side, sitting against a wall, etc. If asked to remove the firearm or leave, I would respectfully leave. Is what happened to these VCDL guys precedent? Are my concealed carry rights in danger because I FOLLOW THE LETTER OF THE LAW?
Does anyone else have any information regarding this case?
Any VCDL members care to comment?
Other thoughts - was the instructor way off? What should I tell my wife, now that she's been given conflicting information?
The law in VA seems clearly written AND a bill to change it was just vetoed by our all-knowing and powerful governor. Why, after being carefully vetted by the state and being determined to be a law abiding citizen would anyone be encouraged to break the law?
[Inserted by JD]
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