The Corner

Virginia’s Attorney General Unilaterally Nukes Concealed Carry Reciprocity

The Washington Post reports:

Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) plans to announce Tuesday that Virginia will no longer recognize concealed carry handgun permits from 25 states that have reciprocity agreements with the commonwealth.

The move also means Virginians with a history of stalking, drug dealing or inpatient mental-health treatment cannot obtain a permit in a state with comparatively lax laws and carry a handgun legally at home. 

Herring said severing the out-of-state agreements can prevent people who may be dangerous or irresponsible from carrying a concealed weapon.

As of February 1st, residents of the following states will be be unable to use their permits to carry in Virginia:

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.

From what I can tell, this maneuver is legal. Under present law, the state legislature has empowered the attorney general to decide with which states Virginia has reciprocity deals, and the attorney general has taken advantage of that power. If, as seems possible, the legislature disapproves of the AG’s choices, it will have to change the law. 

Nevertheless, the politics here are complicated. This is a big, big change, and one that will eventually affect both visitors to Virginia and traveling Virginians. If history is anything to go by, many of the states that the AG has kicked off the list will retaliate in kind. In consequence, Virginians who had grown accustomed to carrying in North Carolina, Kentucky, or Tennessee will have a rude awakening next time they want to cross state lines. As the Post notes, it is still possible for outsiders to get a Virginia “non-resident” license — and still possible, too, for Virginians to apply for “non-resident” licenses in the surrounding states. But this is a time-consuming, redundant, and invariably expensive process that, until this decision was taken, was wholly unnecessary. Given the makeup of the state legislature, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a strong push for reversal.

And rightly so. As we have seen recently in New Jersey, many Americans presume that their concealed-carry licenses work like drivers licenses and are thus “good everywhere.” It is almost guaranteed that there is someone out there who has been driving around the neighboring states with no idea that his ability to carry legally is the product of a soon-to-expire bilateral agreement. Given where public sentiment is at the moment, it will take only one Shaneen Allen to start a serious push against Herring’s folly. 


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