- The Washington Times - Monday, February 22, 2016

Virginia inched closer Monday to allowing all state judges, including those on the Supreme Court, to carry concealed handguns with no permit or training, saying they need to be able to protect themselves from vengeful litigants.

The Senate voted 34-6 to pass the change, and it now goes back to the House for final approval.

“This ain’t rocket science, it’s point and shoot,” said Sen. Richard Stuart, Stafford Republican. “A lot of these people have sentenced people who are not very happy with them, and it’s a small thing to give judges and I think they absolutely deserve it.”

It was unclear whether any specific incident prompted the bill, but backers said prosecutors already have the right to carry concealed handguns with no permit, so it made sense to extend it to judges.

“I’d submit this is a reasonable extension of law and a commonsense protection for them,” said Sen. Mark Obenshain, Rockingham Republican.

Opponents worried that the bill, while well-intentioned, would create loopholes in other state laws prohibiting firearms in certain public places.

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Under the bill, judges could carry concealed weapons into schools and other places where a ban is supposed to exist.

“What concerns me about this bill is that it not only applies to current judges, but it also applies to retired judges,” said Sen. Scott Surovell, Fairfax Democrat. “I don’t think there’s anything so special about the job that they ought to be able to carry for the rest of their lives just because at one point in time we gave them a robe.”

Mr. Surovell argued that some former judges don’t “retire on good terms” and that allowing them a concealed carry permit could be a safety hazard, and that sitting judges already have protection in the courthouses and don’t need to carry their own weapons.

In other action:

A proposal to allow wildlife officials to shoot feral hogs from helicopters made it out of a Senate committee unanimously Thursday.

The Virginian-Pilot reported that the wild hogs were wreaking havoc at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park, and the bill would give the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries another course of action to eliminate them.

A Senate committee approved legislation that would require the state’s annual crime report to list officer-involved shootings.

The measure was put forward by Delegate Charniele Herring, Alexandria Democrat, and previously passed the House unanimously. Some Republicans have argued that in addition to statistics on police shootings, information on whether the shootings were justified or not should also be included.

The Senate passed a bill that would require authorities to secure a conviction before police can take ownership of property they seize from someone they have arrested.

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