Concealed weapons; attorney for Commonwealth may carry without a permit. (SB776)

Introduced By

Sen. Robert Hurt (R-Chatham) with support from co-patrons Del. Danny Marshall (R-Danville), and Del. Don Merricks (R-Danville)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Concealed weapons; attorney for the Commonwealth may carry without a permit. Authorizes an attorney for the Commonwealth or an assistant attorney for the Commonwealth to carry a concealed handgun without obtaining a permit wherever such attorney may travel in the Commonwealth. Current law only authorizes an attorney for the Commonwealth to carry a concealed handgun without a permit while in the discharge of his official duties or while in transit to and from such duties. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


01/18/2008Presented and ordered printed 088921556
01/18/2008Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
02/06/2008Reported from Courts of Justice (13-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/08/2008Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/11/2008Read second time and engrossed
02/11/2008Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/11/2008Passed Senate (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/11/2008Communicated to House
02/12/2008Placed on Calendar
02/12/2008Read first time
02/12/2008Referred to Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety
02/22/2008Reported from Militia, Police and Public Safety (18-Y 1-N)
02/25/2008Read second time
02/26/2008Passed by for the day
02/27/2008Read third time
02/27/2008Pending question ordered
02/27/2008Passed House (64-Y 31-N 2-A)
02/27/2008VOTE: --- PASSAGE (64-Y 31-N 2-A)
02/28/2008Bill text as passed Senate and House (SB776ER)
02/28/2008Signed by Speaker
03/02/2008Signed by President
03/07/2008G Approved by Governor-Chapter 464 (effective 7/1/08)
03/14/2008G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0464)


Dan Finn writes:

They are citizens just like the rest of us, no better, no worse. Let them go through the same process to get a carry permit rather then creating yet another special class of citizen.

cindi writes:

If I need a permit, you need one too. The nerve.

Christopher writes:

No, we are not "citizens just like the rest of us." We are consitutional officers who take an oath to enforce the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. When is the last time you saw a "citizen like the rest of us" prosecuting cases in a Virginia Court? Commonwealth's Attorneys and their assistants also have arrest powers, unlike citizens, as they are Conservators of the Peace. Existing law already allows Commonwealth's Attorneys to carry concealed weapons while engaged in professional duties, this provision clears up existing law by recognizing arrest power which is not limited to working hours. Please educate yourself regarding existing law before condemning effective legislation.

David writes:

This law actually just recognizes the Attorney for the Commonwealth as a law enforcement officer, like the Federal Law Enforcement Officer's Safety Act does. Prosecutors with statutory powers of arrest (like Commonwealth Attorneys) can already carry a firearm concealed in any state in the country, and that definition includes Washington, D.C., notwithstanding any state law to the contrary. See 18 U.S.C. 926B. This law is about providing the people who stand up to some of the worst members in society on a daily basis with the same level of personal protection, should they choose to exercise it, that any other law enforcement officer has. Over 30% of prosecutor's offices have reported some form of work related violence in the past. The danger that prosecutors face is real and it's one that other citizens do not face. That's the difference.

Richard writes:

I view this bill as a slap in the face to ALL law abiding citizens of Virginia. If a Commonwealth Attorney wishes a CWP they should be required to submit an application, undergo training and a background check like everyone else. Their carry should face the same restrictions as everyone else, except possibly in court buildings. Resturants that serve alcoholic beverages should be off limits for conceal carry.

CCGF writes:

I fully realize the importance of the Commonwealth Attorney's need for self protection. No argument what so ever. But, I have been a Correctional Officer in the Virginia Dept. of Corrections for the past 19 years, we deal with the same folks the Commonwealth Attorney's are prosecuting on a everyday basis. We have to apply for and go through the legal process to carry a concealed weapon just like a regular, every day citizen. I'd couldn't count the number of times my families and my own life has been threatened by an offender, either when they get out of prison or by their "people" on the street. So, it is my opinion any officer of the state that deals with these offenders, should automatically be able to carry a concealed weapon.

Keith writes:

Christopher and David...I recognize the need for Commonwealth's Attorneys to carry concealed, even in restaurants that serve alcohol, but don't you think some form of training should be required like the sort that law enforcement officers must undergo on a regular basis? I'm not in favor of anyone carrying a concealed weapon who hasn't been trained to shoot accurately and effectively. Commonwealth's Attorneys who do not undergo some sort of firearms training scare the hell out of me and I wouldn't want to be anywhere near them if they're carrying a loaded handgun.

Carl writes:

Christopher, and David have a point that they deal with the dregs of society. However, they're not the only ones who have to deal with them, as CCGF points out. I send people to jail quite frequently as a bank investigator for fraud. Unfortunately, I'm not "privileged" as Chris, and Dave to have ABA Card that lets me walk around freely able to protect myself. So I'm supposed to depend upon a system that I have seen fail again, and again? One that even Chris, and Dave feel doesn't protect them, if they feel the need to carry into a bar? C'mon. You cannot have it both ways guys! It's either EVERYONE, or NO ONE! Protecting one's self isn't a privilge it's a RIGHT!

David writes:

In response to Carl and Keith:

Well I couldn't agree with you more about the need for firearms training before carrying a handgun. I have the training, but I do not carry a firearm on my person at any time. I went through the training to become eligible for a concealed handgun permit and I have qualified with police firearms instructors on their range. I do not plan to carry a handgun with me, however, as I just would not feel comfortable. I understand those that do wish to carry, civilian and law enforcement, and I support their right to do so.

It is unfortunate that this debate has been overwhelmed by the shrill complaints of the pro-carry lobby. Their rhetoric has quite honestly made me ill. Carl and Keith make reasonable points, however, so I will try and address them in the same manner.

All lawyers cannot carry a concealed handgun under SB776, only Commonwealth Attorneys. The ABA is a private organization for lawyers that I am not a member of. The Virginia State Bar licenses lawyers for the Commonwealth, but even all of those lawyers cannot carry. Only sworn Commonwealth Attorneys are impacted by this bill. State law identifies the Commonwealth's Attorney as part of the law enforcement department for his jurisdiction. Va. Code Ann. 15.2-1627. I mention this so we understand that the law firm of Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe cannot go packing without a permit.

Even under SB776, Commonwealth Attorneys cannot carry in a bar or restaurant that serves alcohol. Yeah, I know that 18.2-308 now says "anywhere," but it doesn't mean it. Paragraph 18.2-308(J3) says "no person" can carry in such an establishment, except for law enforcement. Even though Commonwealth Attorneys are included in law enforcement in other parts of the code, they are not in this code section. Look at 18.2-308(M). The use of "anywhere" doesn't trump "no person" because it wouldn't make sense to exempt law enforcement in J3 if the "anywhere" for law ennforcement in (B)(2) really meant anywhere. Oddly, a police officer from New Jersey is. And, of course, no one can carry while intoxicated.

Since we already could carry while working as a Commonwealth Attorney as a conservator of the peace, and could carry when not working under LEOSA, we basically got state government buildings, state parks and schools out of this. Don't believe the hype about this bill. The entire Senate and 2/3 of the House of Delegates voted for this. I hope that, in the end, people realize that those who have hijacked this debate for their own ends are not being honest.

Sorry for the long post, but its hard to compress the rules of statutory construction.

John Athayde writes:

The training required to obtain a CCW permit in Virginia is not that extensive. It's a basic firearm safety course with range instruction and proven accuracy at varying distances. It takes a day and some paperwork. I have no problem with extended carry ability of a prosecutor with statutory powers of arrest (e.g. in all states or locations that normally disallow, in the same manner a police officer may) but I would expect the training and qualification requirements to be on par with any officer of the peace.

Anyone using a firearm without proper training is more likely to do harm, even unintentional harm, than good.