Governor, Republicans announce bipartisan gun legislation

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Terry McAuliffe and House Republican leaders held a press conference Friday afternoon at the Capitol to announce a bipartisan agreement on gun policies in the commonwealth.

Back in December, Attorney General Mark Herring announced that the state would be terminating reciprocity agreements for concealed carry handgun permits with 25 states. At the time, the attorney general said those states had weaker concealed carry laws than Virginia and, according to state law, reciprocity agreements with those states had to be terminated.

The governor and Republican leaders on Friday announced plans to reverse course on terminating the reciprocity agreements, and to instead have state police present to conduct voluntary background checks at gun shows and prevent people under permanent protective orders for domestic violence from possessing a firearm. Under the agreement, Virginia will honor any state that has a concealed carry program.

Also at the Capitol were the parents of slain WDBJ journalist Alison Parker, and the gun rights group Virginia Citizens Defense League. The governor is seeing strong criticism from gun control advocates accusing of him of giving into the gun lobby. Andy Parker, the father of Alison Parker, says he considers the governor a friend, but had this to say about the bipartisan proposal:

“Sometimes friends disagree and this is one of those times,” Parker said. “I know all too well that this is a matter of life and death, and on this issue I have to put public safety above friendship.”

The governor had this to say when asked if he was abandoning gun violence prevention advocates: “I have to do what is right for the citizens of the commonwealth of Virginia. What we announced here today will make Virginians safer.”

The Speaker of House, Bill Howell, praised the governor during the press conference Friday.

“I’ve seen a lot, heard a lot about who won or who lost in this particular instance, and as the governor said Virginia won and that’s all there is to it,” Howell said.

Meanwhile Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, says he believes this is a win for gun owners.

“It’s an important step in everybody honoring everybody’s permit, so someday it will actually feel like America when I can go to New York on my Virginia permit and carry there and be able to protect myself,” Van Cleave said.

For more Virginia General Assembly coverage, visit the In the Rotunda section.

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