The Virginia House of Delegates on Wednesday approved a bill to exempt concealed carry permit holders from local prohibitions against carrying or transporting a loaded shotgun or rifle in a vehicle.
The measure adds the permit holders to others exempted from local ordinances such as authorized law enforcement officers and military personnel, or people who believe they need a loaded rifle or shotgun for their personal safety for work.
The Senate-passed bill, with minor amendments, passed on a 62-34 vote.
“One of the things we’re wrestling with here is we’re trying to deal with the passage of local ordinances that prohibit hunting from roads,” said Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter, Prince William Republican. “And unfortunately, this has complicated a whole business of carrying a loaded shotgun or a rifle from one area to another area, either coming across another county or possibly a farmer going from one field and then having to use a public road to get to another field, and he may want to have a loaded rifle to deal with varmints and other things on his farm, or he many want to go into town and buy something in town.”
Delegate Scott A. Surovell, Fairfax Democrat, offered a floor amendment to require concealed carry permit holders to actually have the permit in their possession if they transport a loaded rifle or shotgun in a vehicle, but it was defeated.
Speaking against the broader bill, Mr. Surovell recalled one day when his “granddaddy” beat down a snake with a billy club he had with him.
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“Mr. Speaker, you don’t have to have a gun to hunt, and I don’t think it’s necessary to carry a gun around in a car to hunt, especially a loaded one,” he said.
He also said that “we don’t need more guns in traffic.”
“The last thing we need in Northern Virginia or Hampton Roads traffic is people riding around with a loaded shotgun and a gun rack,” Mr. Surovell said. “Tempers flare.”
Delegate Greg Habeeb, Salem Republican, asked Mr. Surovell if he knew which jurisdictions had banned transporting loaded firearms.
“I would ask the gentleman if it surprised him that it is currently legal to transport a loaded firearm in Fairfax County, Virginia,” Mr. Habeeb said.
“I’m not aware of that, but I’ll be talking to my board of supervisors about that if that’s the case,” Mr. Surovell replied, to some laughter.
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Mr. Habeeb later asked him if he could list jurisdictions inside the Beltway with such bans.
“No, I cannot answer that — as I told the gentleman, I can’t answer the question [because] I have not researched it, and I don’t want to end up on Politifact,” Mr. Surovell said.
The House also signed off on a Senate-passed bill that would require a person to “knowingly” possess a firearm on school property in order to be convicted of a Class 6 felony.
Supporters of that bill said, for example, that someone could unwittingly end up committing a crime if he or she is driving in a car after their spouse had mistakenly left a gun inside.
That measure passed on a 93-5 vote.
On an 83-17 vote, the House also rejected a measure that had passed a day earlier that would have legalized selling brass knuckles, blackjacks, throwing stars and switchblades, which would leave in place the crime for selling such items punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor.