Concealed handgun permits; firearms safety courses. (HB1326)

Introduced By

Del. Luke Torian (D-Woodbridge) with support from co-patron Del. Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church)

Progress

Introduced
Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law

Description

Concealed handgun permit; firearms safety course. Eliminates certain firearms safety courses the completion of which currently satisfies the requirement that all resident and nonresident applicants for a concealed handgun permit demonstrate competence with a handgun. The bill also requires that certain firearms safety courses that satisfy this requirement focus primarily on the use and handling of a concealed handgun. Amends § 18.2-308, of the Code of Virginia. Read the Bill »

Outcome

Bill Has Failed

History

  • 11/05/2012 Committee
  • 11/05/2012 Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/09/13 13100094D
  • 11/05/2012 Referred to Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety
  • 01/15/2013 Assigned MPPS sub: #1
  • 01/17/2013 Subcommittee recommends laying on the table
  • 02/06/2013 Left in Militia, Police and Public Safety

Comments

stephen writes:

Anything that weakens gun laws is a threat to the public and since the government claims nothing is more inportant than protecting kids, I find it rude to even write this law.

Jim Camitz writes:

Why are we trying to make it even more difficult to obtain a permit? This law should not be adopted.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

What this bill does is make more specific the firearms training that's required to obtained a concealed weapons permit. Currently a hunting safety course qualifies one to carry a concealed weapon regardless of whether it teaches anything about either handguns or concealed handguns. This bill would require a "training course that focuses on the use and handling of a concealed handgun." (And, because Del. Torian is apparently a stickler for grammatical accuracy, he also correctly changes two uses of "which" to "that" in § 18.2-308. :)

Editor’s Pick
Peter Brown writes:

HB1326 is an excellent bill and must be enacted.

The purpose of Section 18.2-308.G is to make sure every applicant for a CHP has at some time proven to be competent with a handgun (not a rifle, shotgun or other firearm).

A brief discussion of each subparagraph’s suggested changes follows.

1) Hunter education courses do not teach people how to operate or shoot any type of firearm. Hunter education courses do not contain a hands-on or a shooting component. Hunter education courses do not give anyone the chance to prove they are competent with a handgun. This paragraph should be struck.

2) There are many NRA firearm courses. Not all NRA course/orientations train people to be competent with a (concealed) handgun as the law requires. At a minimum the word firearm must be changed to handgun to meet the intent of the law.

3) The training requirements for a CHP should be defined only by the court (see paragraph 9) or by the General Assembly. Currently this paragraph circumvents the intent of the law.
For some inexplicable reason(s) this paragraph bestows certain private citizens with the authority to rewrite the law. We do not know the content of “any” non-standard courses. This paragraph must be eliminated. Anyone, including a NRA or state certified instructor, can petition the court to have a non-standard course deemed adequate for the purpose of this Section.

5) Who is to say what an organized shooting competition is? The competition clause is too vague and must be dropped.

7) In addition to problems cited for paragraph 3, this paragraph allows an applicant to obtain a CHP based on a bogus diploma purchased from a standalone website. This entire paragraph makes a travesty out the law. As such, it must be eliminated.

Va Pitts writes:

I know far too many older women who have never handled a handgun much less fired who have applied for Concealed Weapons Permit and received it. They are a danger to themselves as well as the rest of us.

North Carolina has the mandatory hands on firearm (handguns) training and NRA did not oppose that law.

Editor’s Pick
me writes:

Paragraph 2 must be changed.

Before continuing a short vocabulary lesson is in order.

The word “firearm” is generic and refers to any type of handgun, rifle or shotgun.

The word “handgun” refers to revolvers and semi-automatic pistols.

Also, please remember this section of the Code refers to the training required to obtain a concealed handgun permit. It does not pertain to just any general purpose firearms training.

Allow me to repeat the beginning of the Section G. It states:

“The court shall require proof that the applicant has demonstrated competence with a handgun…”

The law is very clear. An applicant for a permit to carry a concealed handgun must provide proof of demonstrated competency with a handgun. It does not state firearm, rifle or shotgun.

There is an obvious reason for this.

Competency with a rifle, shotgun or obsolete technologies does not translate to competency with modern handgun for many technical and practical reasons.

With that said, I hope you will agree that completing a rifle or shotgun course is not adequate training to carry a concealed handgun in public.

Let’s take a moment to review the current text of paragraph 2. It states:

Completing any National Rifle Association firearms safety or training course;

The obvious problem with the paragraph is the word, “firearms.”

The National Rifle Association has developed many firearms courses. They include but, are not limited to modern rifle, pistol (handgun) and shotgun courses. All these courses are directed towards certain audiences. The modern rifle course, for example, gives students and introduction to modern rifles.

It makes no sense that a person should be able to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun by completing for instance a NRA shotgun or NRA rifle course. Let’s get real.

When someone wants to satisfy the education requirement for a permit to carry a concealed handgun by completing an NRA course, that course should present the knowledge, skills and attitude necessary to effectively use a concealed handgun for self-protection outside the home – in public.

The NRA has never claimed any of its fundamental or basic pistol (handgun) courses provide students with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitude necessary to competently carry a concealed handgun in public. The General Assembly is totally responsible for giving extra credit where none was due.

The NRA has acknowledged its pistol classes do not teach students to be competent or proficient with concealed a handgun. To correct this deficiency, two relatively new classes have been added to their course offerings. They are the “Personal Protection Outside the Home Course” and the “NRA Defensive Pistol Module.” For the purposes of this discussion, both of these are preferable to a generic pistol classes.

Allowing this paragraph to go unchanged would be irresponsible government because it would allow people who do not have proof of competency with a handgun to carry concealed handguns in public.

The changes proposed by HB1326 make perfect sense and must be enacted.

Paragraph 3

This paragraph is wrong from start to finish.

The opening clause is a major red flag; it states:

“Completing any firearms safety or training course”

The key word is “any.”

With this clause the General Assembly is pre-approving, endorsing and accrediting classes whose content and duration are not specified. Nobody knows what is being presented in these non-standard classes.

Would you allow your children to attend a school with an undefined curriculum and the teachers are not held accountable for what they present to students? Of course not!

This paragraph is a total travesty because the General Assembly pre-approves whatever an individual instructor defines as a class.

For this discussion, standard courses are the ones defined by the NRA and by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).

Next, the red herrings meant to mislead the reader about the true purpose of this paragraph are addressed.

• Law enforcement agencies do not offer comprehensive firearm courses to the general public.

• With a single exception, Virginia community colleges no longer teach the firearm course, PED174, because the associated costs for such things as performing a background check, range fees and ammunition are prohibitive. By the way, being certified by the NRA is not a requirement to teach this course. This attempt at making paragraph 3 seem credible missed the mark.

• A student’s transcript, report card or letter from the teacher can be used to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun. This will be discussed latter.

• Anyone can do business as a college or a firearms training school.

All the distracters in paragraph 3 must be dismissed out of hand because they are nonsense at best.

The last part of the paragraph warrants our attention. It states:
“utilizing instructors certified by the National Rifle Association or the Department of Criminal Justice Services.”
The problem here is that the capacity in which the certified instructors are utilized is not defined.

If the intent of this paragraph was to have certified instructors do the actual teaching, it should have been stated.

As it stands the certified instructors could be hirelings allowing their name to be used on a diploma and they have no say so in the course being conducted. This is a major loophole.

There is another serious problem: The type of NRA certified instructor is not defined.

As noted earlier, the NRA has developed many classes. They are categorized into disciplines. Three of the shooting disciplines are: rifle, pistol and shotgun. There are also non-shooting disciplines such as metallic cartridge reloading and shotgun shell reloading.

The NRA certifies instructors by discipline such as shotgun, rifle or pistol. Becoming a certified instructor for a particular discipline requires unique training.

With the completion of additional training, someone is able to be NRA certified in more than one discipline.

The NRA does not allow NRA certified instructors to teach NRA classes outside of their discipline – A person certified as a NRA certified shotgun instructor can only teach NRA shotgun classes and is not allowed to teach any other NRA classes.

All of this was conveniently ignored when the law was crafted. As a result, unqualified people could be issuing diplomas under paragraph 3.

To illustrate the problem, this paragraph enables a NRA instructor who is not qualified to teach a NRA Pistol class to issue a diploma without having any expertise with handguns or concealed carry.

The same applies to state-certified firearms instructors because the state does not have concealed handgun classes.

It is not reasonable for the General Assembly to assume (ASS-U-ME) that a person is qualified to design and teach a class simply because they have been trained to teach a NRA class or state-define class. In other words, people certified by the state or the NRA should not be given the right to teach “any” course. Instead, the non-standard course must be reviewed by the court.

Paragraph 3 is a travesty and makes a mockery of the law.

Try as you might, the existence of this paragraph cannot be justified and therefore must be eliminated.

The recommendation in HB1326 to eliminate this paragraph is a sensible measure; there is no way to justify keeping the paragraph in the law.

Eliminating Paragraph 3 is not as drastic as it appears.

A diploma from a non-standard course can still be used to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun.
Let me direct your attention to Paragraph 9.
This very important part of the law is often overlooked.
It states:
“9. Completing any other firearms training which the court deems adequate.”

It means anyone including you, me, a NRA certified instructor or a state certified instructor can petition the court to have any non-standard course be approved as proof of competency with a handgun. The process is easy. If the course is legitimate the court will deem it adequate for satisfying the provisions of obtaining a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

Let me direct your attention to the text under paragraph 9. It states unique circumstances are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Paragraph 5
This paragraph must be changed because:
• The “competition clause” is too vague
• This clause makes no reference to accuracy or proficiently.
• Informal shooting matches such as inviting a friend over to shoot at tin cans with a BB gun can qualify as “organized shooting competition.”
There is no way to justify the competition clause. Therefore is must be deleted as specified in the bill.
The General should make the Virginia State Police determine if someone’s competition experience proves competency with a handgun at the time the Application is being processed.

Paragraph 7

Until the “electronic” clause was added, this paragraph was essentially the same as paragraph 3 and suffered from the same problems.

That is, diplomas are being issued for non-standard classes where the contents and the qualifications of the instructors are unknown. Recall not all NRA certified instructors are necessarily qualified to teach pistol and concealed carry classes.

The inclusion of online courses has made paragraph 7 a much larger problem.

There are two types of websites used in the education community: asynchronous and synchronous.

With the former, the student has no interaction with an instructor – the instructor is not conducting a class. A benefit of asynchronous websites is that students can log on anytime to access and print out material. Students are interacting with computer software only.

With synchronous websites, the students and instructor log on at the same time and interact in real time. In this scenario, the instructor is conducting a class.

The distinction was omitted when the “electronic” clause was added to this paragraph. (See SB1528 during the 2009 Session)

There have never been any synchronous websites where instructors are actually conducting classes where people learn the necessary knowledge, skills and attitude to carry a concealed handgun.

Instead, there is a proliferation of asynchronous websites which allow customers to print out a diploma for a fee. These websites are nothing more than vending machines. No education or training is taking place. Thus, more and more untrained people are obtaining permits to carry a concealed handgun.

It is my contention that the operators of these cyberspace diploma mills are not adhering to the law because an instructor is not, by definition, conducting a course or class.

If you think otherwise then you must think ATM machines are conduct classes in personal finance.

The recommendation in HB1326 to delete paragraph 7 is a commonsense measure.

The General Assembly must stop pre-approving non-standard classes because they are shams.

If the operators of these websites think they are really conducting legitimate classes, let them submit them for accreditation under the provisions of Paragraph 9.

me writes:

@ stephen – I am dumbfound by your comment. HB1326 does not weaken any gun law and it provides more protection to kids because fewer untrained (dangerous) people will be carrying concealed handguns in public. Untrained people are a threat to themselves and others. I wonder why you say it is rude to write this law.

@ Jim Camitz – Do you believe applicants for a driver’s license must provide proof of competency at driving a car?

Why do you think it is bad to require a person to provide proof they are competent with a handgun before they are issued a permit to carry a concealed handgun?

People with no tangible knowledge of handguns and people with no shooting experience are able to obtain a permit to carry a concealed hand because of numerous loopholes in Section 18.2-308. For example, many hucksters at gun shows award diplomas for attending a short and entertaining “dog and pony show” which are considered legitimate under Sections 18.2-308 (G) (3) and 18.2-308 (G) (7).

Dan writes:

In 2009, then Sen. Kenneth Cuccinelli introduced and won passage of an odious bill which REQUIRED Virginia's Circuit Court judges (who issue concealed carry permits) to accept as proof of "competence" with a handgun the completion of an online gun course if that course was performed by an NRA certified instructor.

Cuccinelli did this at the behest a gun store owner from Norfolk who had developed the "Concealed Carry Institute," and online gun course anyone can take in their home, while drinking beer, for $39.95. Shortly before Cooch introduced the bill, the gun store owner gave the senator a $1,000 campaign contribution; it's currently listed on vpap.org

Since then, the Concealed Carry Institute has sold thousands of these courses. It's a 1-hour video, followed by a 20-question true-false and multiple choice test. If you score 75 percent on the test, your "certificate" pops up on your computer screen, and you print it off your own printer. Judges are mandated to accept this certificate as proof of "competence" with a handgun for people who apply for concealed carry permits. It has allowed people WHO HAVE NEVER BEFORE TOUCHED A HANDGUN IN THEIR LIVES to procure a concealed carry permit.

As it stands, the wording of this bill effectively repeals the 2009 Cuccinelli law. I'm not going to get into semantic debates about the rest of thing -- but that in and of itself is a good enough reason to enact this thing.

The bill that Cuccinelli put in was wrongheaded and cynical and it should have been repealed long before now.

Mark Blacknell writes:

In fact, you can do it with a video at is just over 17 minutes long. Wrote a bit about the whole issue, here - http://blacknell.net/dynamic/2013/01/09/fun-with-guns-in-richmond/

The course not only lacks a suitably thorough examination of handgun safety, it also fails to address *anything* about the law. Something is very broken in Virginia.

Barbra Anderson writes:

I am so pleased that the General Assembly is so quickly addressing this travesty. Virginia's concealed carry online courses are the most popular in the country because they are so ridiculously easy. I am horifed to think of the thousands of folks who are now considered certified in gun safety, when all thye have done is look at a computer screen. Although gun ownership is a right, it inherently comes with responsibilities. Learning how to operate a gun safely is a basic responsiblity for gun ownership, much less concealed carry. Would you trust a driver who had taken on online course on driving a car?