McAuliffe on gun permit change: ‘All we’re doing is enforcing the law’

Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe on WTOP Dec. 23, 2015. (WTOP/Keara Dowd)

WASHINGTON — As Republicans attack Virginia’s move to stop recognizing concealed handgun permits from 25 other states, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is backing the actions taken by his fellow Democrat, Attorney General Mark Herring.

On WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” on Wednesday, McAuliffe said Herring’s decision, in concert with the Virginia State Police, to stop recognizing the permits Feb. 1 ensures that people who would not be allowed to get a Virginia permit won’t be able to use another state’s concealed carry permit in Virginia either.

“Every time there’s gun violence, everyone says ‘Well, just enforce the laws’ — that’s their easy pushback. Well, guess what? The attorney general took their advice,” McAuliffe says.

“There are states that don’t have the disqualifiers that we have on undocumented folks who are in this country, on spousal/domestic abuse,” he adds.

Virginia law requires the state to recognize concealed handgun or weapons permits from other states as long as the holder is at least 21, the other state provides a way to instantly verify that a license is valid and that “except for the age of the permit or license holder and the type of weapon authorized to be carried, the requirements and qualifications of that state’s law are adequate to prevent possession of a permit or license by persons who would be denied a permit in the Commonwealth under this article.”

Republican leaders in the General Assembly have condemned the change. They say it endangers the rights of Virginia permit holders in other states, which may now stop recognizing Virginia concealed-carry permits.

Republican Party of Virginia Chairman John Whitbeck on Twitter called the decision a “war on yours & my concealed carry permit”. The party is using the change as the basis for fundraising emails.

McAuliffe says the 25 states whose permits will no longer be recognized in Virginia just have lower standards.

“All we’re doing is enforcing the law that they actually wrote, so I don’t know why people are complaining,” McAuliffe says.

Herring emphasized at a Tuesday announcement that the rules for applying for or holding a Virginia concealed-carry permit have not changed.

Opponents of the move say that even so, that it could create complications for permit-holders who live near Virginia’s borders, especially if North Carolina or Tennessee stops recognizing Virginia permits.

Herring says West Virginia concealed-carry permits will continue to be recognized, along with permits from Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

McAuliffe says he is “absolutely not” concerned that the change would have any impact on tourism to the state.

The states whose permits are set to no longer be recognized in Virginia beginning Feb. 1 are 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.

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