Concealed carry permit fears turn Virginia gun owners to another state

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Under the direction of Attorney General Mark Herring, the state of Virginia will soon stop honoring concealed handgun permits from 25 states. Worried their own permits will become invalid in other states, Virginia gun owners are turning to an unlikely solution: the state of Utah.

“It will be more difficult for potentially dangerous individuals to conceal their handguns here in Virginia,” Herring said on December 22, announcing an end to concealed handgun permit agreements with 25 states failing to meet Virginia’s standards.

Critics called the decision a political move against guns. In effect, six states will stop recognizing Virginia permits because of reciprocity laws. Others may follow.

“Because we’re losing those agreements, Virginians have fewer opportunities to carry a defensive handgun in other states,” said James Reynolds, president of Richmond-based Proactive Shooters. To regain access to states that no longer honor Virginia concealed handgun permits, many gun owners are now enrolling in classes to get handgun permits in the state of Utah.

“Ever since the attorney general’s announcement, our classes have just exploded,” said Reynolds. “We’ve had to add extra class dates to our calendar to accommodate folks. Our classroom seats 50 people.”

Reynolds teaches a Utah permit class at Bass Pro Shops in Ashland, Virginia. Cards from Utah are widely popular due to their recognition in more than 30 states.

“We’re seeing literally dozens of phone calls and emails every day. There’s a lot of interest in it.”

Those who have taken the class see it as a way to make sure they can always carry their defense weapons, no matter what state they are in. “They want to concealed carry basically anywhere they need to be protected,” said Shawn Herndon, who completed the class in November 2015.

As Virginia gun owners grab Utah permits, Republicans in the general assembly are already filing bills that give the legislature the authority to decide which permits to recognize. Herring’s move goes into effect on February 1.

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