May 2nd, 2012 05:16 PM
Visitors can carry guns openly in Virginia parks
Visitors can carry guns openly in Virginia parks
Activists waited a long time for change
By David Sherfinski
The Washington Times
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
A long-standing prohibition on openly carrying guns in Virginia state parks is set to officially end Monday, a victory for gun rights advocates after a protracted political battle that spanned four administrations.
More than a year in the making, the state code is being changed after Gov. Bob McDonnell in January 2011 ordered the Department of Conservation and Recreation to stop enforcing the regulation banning guns from parks.
The section has been part of the code or department regulations since at least 1965, and likely since the state park system was created in 1936, according to state documents.
Republicans for a decade have sought to clarify whether the state has legal authority to enforce gun bans and were supported by opinions from two GOP attorneys general — one of them being Mr. McDonnell.
“This was just a lingering issue from the previous administration that was on the radar of the folks at the Department of Conservation and Recreation,” McDonnell spokesman Jeff Caldwell said. “The governor made the decree a year ago to allow this. The [regulations] that we’re going through now are just catching up to policy.”
Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, said changing the regulation carries more significance than a mere letter or directive because it will make it more difficult for future governors to undo.
“We’re glad to see that formally done,” he said. “When McDonnell got in, we got some things fixed that should have gotten fixed a long time ago.”
He pointed to a bill that allows concealed handgun permit holders to carry guns into restaurants that serve alcohol, as long as they don’t drink. The bill was signed into law by Mr. McDonnell in 2010 after measures were vetoed by Democrat Tim Kaine, Mr. McDonnell’s predecessor, the previous two years.
Concealed carry of guns, which requires a permit, was already allowed in Virginia parks. Permit holders have to be at least 21 years old, demonstrate proficiency with a gun and undergo a background check.
People 18 and older in Virginia who can legally own a gun can carry one openly in the state without a permit, as long as it’s visible and holstered. But they were not allowed to bring a gun into a state park. Repealing that regulation affects a significantly larger swath of the gun-owning population because there are far more legal gun owners than concealed-carry permit holders.
Mr. McDonnell in overturning the ban cited the 2008 legal opinion he issued as attorney general saying the department lacked the authority to enforce the regulation. An earlier opinion, issued in 2001 under Randolph A. Beales, concluded that the department had the authority to regulate concealed weapons in state parks.
In 2002, Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, a Republican, issued an official opinion concluding that the department exceeded its authority by banning the concealed carry of handguns by valid permit holders.
As governor, Mark R. Warner, a Democrat, told the department to amend the regulation in line with the opinion, and the amendments allowing concealed carry became effective in February 2003.
But open carry was a different story, Mr. Kaine said.
Mr. Kaine in 2009 disregarded Mr. McDonnell’s legal opinion and instructed the department to continue enforcing the open-carry ban.
Through its explicit authority to maintain the safety of its parks and the power to prescribe rules ‘necessary and incidental’ to such authority, DCR has implicit authority to prohibit the open carrying of firearms,” he wrote in a 2009 letter to Joseph H. Maroon, then the director of the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Mr. Kaine also wrote that the ban was an important part of maintaining safety, citing a survey of 3,000 parks visitors, nearly 80 percent of whom opposed allowing firearms. More than half said they would reduce their visits to parks if people could carry guns.
“I’d much prefer there were no guns carried in state parks, but that seems to be the way it’s going,” said Andrew Goddard, executive director of the Virginia Center for Public Safety. “It’s going to take something serious to happen for people to wake up. Unfortunately, it will be too late for somebody when that happens.”
The Virginia repeal is a hard-fought victory for national gun rights advocates. A law on concealed carry saying that national parks will be governed by the same rules as the states in which they are located took effect in February 2010. That means about 370 of the country’s 392 National Park Service properties permit visitors to carry firearms.
Since Mr. McDonnell ordered the department to stop enforcing the gun-ban regulations, Virginia officials have not had any incidents directly related to the law no longer being enforced, according to regulatory documents.
“Additionally, some visitors may feel safer as a result of their ability to open carry firearms on the Department’s properties,” the documents state.
An initial lack of incidents wouldn’t be surprising, but the repeal could have insidious effects in the long run, said Mr. Goddard, whose son, Colin, was injured during the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.
“Like any time they slacken these laws off, it doesn’t immediately turn into a problem,” he said. “It just adds to the problem that where there are more guns, there are more deaths.”
Good for Virginia
A woman must not depend on protection by men. A woman must learn to protect herself.
Susan B. Anthony
A armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one has to back it up with his life.
May 2nd, 2012 06:39 PM
Now if we can get Pennsylvania to follow suit, I'll be happy.
Though defensive violence will always be a sad necessity in the eyes of men of principle, it would be still more unfortunate if wrongdoers should dominate just men -St. Augustine
May 3rd, 2012 03:10 PM
May 3rd, 2012 05:57 PM
Poll on Richmond TV site.
Guns welcomed in Virginia State Parks | WTVR.com
BTW, rather dumb coverage. Ignored the fact that we have been CC in the parks for years, and OC under a Governor's
directive / decree for year. Pitched as if carry in the parks was new.
FWIIW, my local State park had taped over the anti carry verbage on their signs last summer.
Much better coverage in the OP and reprinted here: After Long Battle, Guns Will Be Allowed in Virginia State Parks
I'm just one root in a grassroots organization. No one should assume that I speak for the VCDL.
I am neither an attorney-at-law nor I do play one on television or on the internet. No one should assumes my opinion is legal advice.
Veni, Vidi, Velcro
May 3rd, 2012 06:00 PM
When HB40 passed last year, it included this tiny little tid bit:
Originally Posted by Badey
Paragraph (2) is new...the trick is to get PADNR to come to the realization that they can't enforce their own rules anymore.
§ 6109. Licenses.
* * *
(m.3) Construction.--Nothing in this section shall be
construed to [permit]:
(1) Permit the hunting or harvesting of any wildlife
with a firearm or ammunition not otherwise permitted by 341
Pa.C.S. (relating to game).
(2) Authorize any Commonwealth agency to regulate the
possession of firearms in any manner inconsistent with the
provisions of this title.
* * *
May 4th, 2012 01:15 AM
What a moron - has anyone pointed out to him that his son was injured by a guy who was nuts, shouldn't have had a gun in the first place *which was the failure of the State - not of us gun owners!* and that had more people on the campus been armed, its likely that his son would not have been injured because the idiot shooter would have been taken out already? Idiocy - thank god its not catching!
.....said Mr. Goddard, whose son, Colin, was injured during the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre
May 4th, 2012 10:13 AM
Hopefully the rumors are true about McDonnell being a possible candidate as Vice for Romney if he wins. It would be nice to have a legit pro gun guy in the White House. Maybe unf$#@ some of the stuff already hurting us.
May 5th, 2012 02:08 AM
I think this is great. I always liked visiting the state parks when I lived in VA. I did carry concealed with a permit while visiting the parks, but now when I move back I'll be able to open carry in the process of re-obtaining my VA Chcp.
Sorry, Romney is too much of a flip flop to really consider him having a pro-gun vice as an upside to him being elected.If you want a real by the constitution pro-gun guy in the White House, go for Ron Paul.
Originally Posted by Snatale42
I don't want to turn this thread into a political debate, so if you question my statements message me to talk about it or just do some research.
May 5th, 2012 04:02 PM
I don't need to do research, I'm from Boston and still lived in MA when he was governor. He saved the state millions of dollars, eliminated many unneeded redundant state branches. Stopped wasting tax payer money to educate people in languages other than English, and many other things to long to list. He took a state with a huge $$ deficit, and left us with a surplus until Deval Patrick came in after him and started blowing through it all. Would I have liked to see him make MA's messed up gun laws better for us? Of course. But he didn't make them any worse, and the Brady Bunch and have the liberal state was all over him to do exactly that! He never complied with any of their requests. MA does still have an AWB.....but we can still have assault weapons so thats still not a big deal, stupid and unneeded but whatever. He does wander a little trying to keep people happy but in the end did what he said he would. If he were to win, having McDonnel with him would be all it takes. As far as Ron Paul, I'd love to see him win, but the reality is that he stands no chance. So a vote for him is wasted. Every vote for him is one less vote against Obama.
Originally Posted by Outer_Heaven
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