In a startling move, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced on December 22 that Virginia will sever concealed handgun permit (CHP) reciprocity ties with 25 of 30 states. In particular, this will affect many Midsouth Shooters Supply customers who reside in Tennessee and other states bordering the Commonwealth.
Speaking about this audit and update, Attorney General Herring said, “Virginia, and nearly every other state in the country, have recognized that carrying a concealed handgun is a significant responsibility that should be extended only to those who have gone through a process to prove a level of competency and responsibility.”
Early next year, Virginia will no longer honor carry permits from the following states:
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
“The standards for proving competency and responsibility are up to each state,” Herring said, “and the General Assembly has established Virginia’s standards for whom it considers capable of safely carrying a concealed handgun. Those standards should be applied evenly, consistently, and fairly to anyone who wants to lawfully conceal a handgun in Virginia.
Herring added, “Under state law, the Virginia State Police can agree to recognize permits issued in another state if that state’s laws, disqualifiers, and safeguards are adequate to prevent possession of a permit by persons who would be denied a permit in the Commonwealth. For much of the last year, my team and I have worked with the Virginia State Police to conduct an audit and update of the states whose permits are recognized in Virginia. This has been a deliberate, thorough, professional review of the states which supposedly meet or exceed Virginia’s standards.”
The following permits will continue to be recognized: West Virginia, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.
The move also means several states will no longer recognize Virginia’s concealed carry permits because they require mutual recognition of permits. Those include Florida, Louisiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wyoming.
Border towns in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Maryland will be hardest hit, such as in Downtown Bristol, which sits on the Virginia/Tennessee state line. State Street in Bristol divides the city into Virginia and Tennessee sections. Soon, that could mean gun-carrying residents on the south side of the street in Tennessee become criminals on the north side in Virginia.
Members of the Virginia House of Delegates criticized the actions of Attorney General Herring.
“The House of Delegates will immediately begin a careful review of the Attorney General’s findings,” said Speaker William J. Howell of Stafford. “Unfortunately, I have little doubt as to his true motivations. He is damaging the integrity of the office he holds.”
“This is another Washington-style overreach from a nakedly partisan attorney general,” said Delegate Rob Bell (R-Albemarle). “The attorney general’s job is to faithfully interpret and enforce the law of the Commonwealth. Virginians who have concealed carry permits may lose the ability to protect themselves when traveling in 25 states. Instead of doing the job he was elected to do, Mark Herring continues to put the political goals of his liberal supporters ahead of sound legal judgement.”
Speaking about today’s announcement, Deputy Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) said, “Attorney General Herring is endangering the lives of law-abiding Virginians as they travel for work, vacation or to visit their families. Virginia’s law on concealed carry reciprocity was created in 1997, when Democrats controlled both houses of the state legislature. This law gives State Police the discretion to determine the states with which Virginia should have reciprocity agreements based on consultation with the Attorney General’s office. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that the consultation provided by the Attorney General in this matter is based purely on his partisan, political goal of denying law-abiding citizens the right to protect and defend themselves.”
“People who lawfully carry a concealed firearm in Virginia want the confidence that when they travel to another state, that state recognizes the rights of Virginia citizens to protect themselves. The attorney general’s unilateral action likely means that many of the 25 states involved in today’s announcement will no longer recognize the legal rights of Virginia citizens,” said Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William), Chairman of the House Committee on Militia, Police & Public Safety. “If the Attorney General was truly interested in safety and security, he would have sat down with these states and resolved any potential issues instead of pulling the rug from under the feet of law-abiding Virginia citizens.”