More gun rights on horizon?
By Ashley Kelly and Kimball Payne
10:57 p.m. EST, February 18, 2010
YORK -- "Guns save lives" is printed on the bright orange stickers.
The stickers were worn by about 50 people who attended a monthly
meeting at the County Grill, hosted by the gun rights Web site
Attendees said that carrying a gun is about expressing a
constitutional right. Many of them discussed proposed legislation in
the General Assembly that could give them further freedoms.
There are several gun bills that are being voted on in the General
Assembly. This week, House lawmakers voted 61-37 to repeal the one
handgun a month purchase limit.
The law, passed in 1993 under Gov. Doug Wilder, has long been upheld
as the state's signature gun-control restriction. The Senate approved
Bill 334, which allows gun owners with permits to carry concealed-
weapons in restaurants that serve alcohol. The vote passed 22-18.
"I think it's been a long time coming. We're seeing some real movement
on these items," said Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia
Citizens Defense League Inc.
Van Cleave said Bill 334 was one of the most important bills that is
being proposed during this session.
"Criminals tend to pick times when you're caught off guard. You just
don't know," Van Cleave said. "You only get one life. This is how I
choose to protect it. If others don't, that's their choice."
Gun owners and 2nd Amendment activists have reason to be in high
spirits in Virginia these days, thanks to the election of Gov. Bob
McDonnell last November, which helped Republicans bolster an already
powerful majority in the House of Delegates. With a Republican in the
Virginia executive mansion for the first time in almost a decade,
lawmakers are pushing the most aggressive gun rights legislation in
York County Sheriff J.D. "Danny" Diggs and Congressman Rob Wittman
both attended Wednesday's meeting as guests of OpenCarry.org. Neither
gave formal remarks.
State legislators are pushing an array of proposals, including changes
that would exempt Virginia gun and ammunition builders from federal
oversight. Lawmakers are also pushing to repeal a law limiting
Virginians to a single handgun purchase a month.
"Criminals don't care about how many handguns they can have a month.
They don't care about what the law says they can get," said Paul
Henick, who attended the dinner. "The General Assembly is really
reinstating a lot of the things they took away over the last 20 or 30
Van Cleave said "freedom will be ringing" if many of the proposed
bills become law.
"For the first time since 1995, a gun owner will be able to decide for
himself if he wants to carry a concealed weapon," Van Cleave said.