|Action||Promulgation of new regulation banning concealed firearms in executive branch agency offices|
|Comment Period||Ends 1/27/2016|
Summary – The regulation should be withdrawn, the emergency regulation on which it is based (Executive Order 50) should be repealed. Both regulations are likely to increase harm to citizens of the Commonwealth and waste taxpayer money. I request a public hearing be held on this regulation.
1. The regulation is not likely to reduce harm if it is successful in its purpose – the prohibition on legal carry within government facilities.
Legal open carry, and permitted concealed carry in particular, has not been a cause of crime in Virginia. The Governor’s stated impetus for this regulation – the terrorist attack in San Bernardino – would not have been prevented by placing a sign on the door prohibiting the carry of firearms. A criminal intent on committing a violent felony against innocent people will not be dissuaded by a sign.
Furthermore, individuals who have a permit to carry a concealed handgun are demonstrably more law-abiding than the general public. The proposed regulation does not identify how prohibition of carry by law abiding citizens will reduce harm, but only makes the unsupported allegation that its enactment will protect the public from “gun violence.” Neither the “Need” nor “Substance” sections of the background document contain any substantiation, other than conjecture, that the proposed regulation will reduce harm.
2. The regulation is likely to increase harm if it is successful.
Law abiding citizens will have two options to comply with the regulation and visit a state facility – leave their firearm at home or secure it in their vehicle. This is likely to result in harm for several reasons.
If a law abiding citizen goes without arms, they are defenseless against a criminal threat. Even the most recent CDC report ordered by President Obama in 2013 notes that between 500,000 and 3 million defensive gun uses (DGU’s) occur each year in the US. (page 15) Based on population of the Commonwealth, this translates into at least 13,000 to 78,000 DGU’s in Virginia each year. Furthermore, that same report (page 16) notes consistently lower injury rates for citizens who resist crime with a gun. In short, it is very clear that the proposed regulation will do the opposite of what it’s intended purpose is.
Alternatively, a law abiding citizen may choose to unholster and lock their firearm in their vehicle while they do their business in a state facility. This will still leave them defenseless as outlined above, and is also likely to increase harm in other ways. First, it leaves an unattended firearm in a vehicle, where a thief may steal it and use it for criminal purpose. Since stolen firearms are a major source of crime guns, this threat cannot be ignored.
Second, a holstered gun is completely safe, while a handled gun is not. Handling your gun to store it in a vehicle introduces an unnecessary weapon manipulation with a slight (but non-zero) incidence of negligent discharge. Law abiding citizens and law enforcement officers alike are trained not to unnecessarily handle their weapons. The proposed regulation forces a citizen to choose between going defenseless for the day and unnecessarily handling their weapon. Not good.
3. Alternatives to the regulation are not addressed.
The section described as “Alternatives” outlines the requirements for explaining viable alternatives to the proposed regulation. This proposed regulation describes no alternatives. Perhaps because the “Need” and “Substance” sections contain no actual facts or data, no alternatives could be considered. However, when proposing such a sweeping and far-reaching regulation, the people of Virginia deserve to understand the full rationale and range of options considered when determining the final regulations.
4. The people of the Commonwealth have the right to keep and bear arms.
Article I, section 13 of the Virginia Constitution reads:
That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.
Note that it is very clear in the Virginia constitution that the right to bear arms belongs to the people, and that the Virginia militia consists of the body of the people. Prohibiting the lawful bearing of arms in government buildings is an infringement on this natural right enshrined in our state constitution. While one may understand that certain sensitive places may be protected from the bearing of arms, it is hard to argue that every office, ABC store and rest stop qualifies as a sensitive place.
5. The proposed regulation will waste law enforcement and court resources.
In order for the proposed regulation to be effective (at its stated outcome – see above for actual effects), it must be enforced. Law enforcement officers will have to respond to people who violate the regulation, whether willfully or inadvertently. Their time, as well as court time and administration, will be taken up by responding to such incidents. Remember, this applies only to violations of the carry prohibition who do not intend harm to anyone, since those who intend harm are a. not dissuaded by signs and b. already prohibited by law from brandishing, assaulting or otherwise harming others.
6. The proposed regulation will cost Virginia taxpayers money.
Placing and maintaining signs, training staff and law enforcement (both State and Local), and educating the public is not a zero-cost endeavor. Since the likely harm reduction from this regulation is zero, and in fact are likely to cause harm, this regulation wastes taxpayer money.