In 2020, Virginia Democrats used their new majorities to pass sweeping gun control resolutions through the General Assembly, and Democrats will retain control during the upcoming regular session. But that isn’t stopping Republicans in the House of Delegates from trying to pass some pro-gun legislation. So far, legislators have pre-filed three pro-gun bills for the 2021 session that, if passed, will expand concealed carry handgun (CCH) rights and remove sovereign immunity in areas with government gun bans.
Sovereign immunity is a legal principle limiting lawsuits against a government. Delegate John McGuire, III (R-Henrico) (pictured above) has introduced HB 1757. The bill removes sovereign immunity for injuries anywhere a state or local government has enacted a firearms ban, exposing that government to lawsuits for injuries.
“In gun-free zones, citizens are giving up their Second Amendment right of self-protection and are entirely dependent on the State or locality to keep them safe. If gun-free zones are so effective, then there should not be a constraint on suing the government if an injury does occur,” states a McGuire press release from a similar bill he introduced in 2020.
Delegate Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach) introduced HB 1793, which also takes aim at the recently passed provision allowing localities to enact their own gun bans. Davis’ bill would exempt CCH permit holders from firearms bans enacted by localities. He introduced a similar bill during the 2020 special session, but Democrats declined to hear the bill. Davis is running for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor.
“The legislation last year that Democrats passed created a patchwork of different laws that now are different by locality. So you can imagine, driving from one locality to the next and all of the sudden having a different set of laws for having a concealed firearm,” Davis told The Virginia Star.
“Some localities you can have a concealed firearm, [but] when you go pick up your son or daughter from their soccer practice at a local park, some localities you can’t [have a concealed firearm,]” Davis said.
“The entrapment environment that the Democrats have created is frightening, and you have a patchwork set of gun control laws that differ every time you cross a city line,” Davis said. “I don’t support these gun control measures, but if the Democrats really felt that this was the right thing to do, then they should have at minimum had the courage to do this at the state level.”
HB 1773, pre-filed by Delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper), would remove the need for a CCH permit. Anyone qualified to obtain the permit would be allowed to carry concealed without a permit in areas where guns are legal. Davis said that if both HB 1773 and 1793 are passed, the bills would work together — someone could carry a concealed handgun without a permit even in localities that have enacted firearms bans.
“My bill basically increases the area for which a person can carry concealed, and then Nick’s bill says if you are legally allowed to carry concealed in that area, and then could legally have gotten a concealed carry permit, you do not have to have that permit,” Davis said.
Davis doesn’t think his bill is likely to pass, but he said, “It may be a long shot, but we have to continue fighting for our Second Amendment rights, and honestly, stop governments from being able to create an entrapment environment of patchwork gun control laws that differ every time you cross a city line.”
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