Virginia Democrats Launch More Attacks on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin better have his veto pen ready, because the Democrats who captured narrow control of both chambers of the legislature back in November are unleashing an onslaught of anti-gun legislation ahead of the 2024 session, and the head of the state’s largest 2A group is warning that even more bills are coming.

The latest gun control bills to drop are SB 55 and SB 57, both authored by state Sen. Saddam Salim, a northern Virginia Democrat who ousted incumbent Chap Petersen in the Democratic primary before winning the general election in a deep blue district a couple of months ago. Petersen wasn’t exactly a good friend to gun owners during his time in the state Senate, but he was one of four Senate Democrats who voted against a bill banning so-called assault weapons back in 2020.

Salim, on the other hand, is wasting no time at all in going after lawful gun owners, as the Virginia Citizens Defense League is warning members. In an email alert VCDL president Philip Van Cleave offered his analysis of the latest bills while alerting gun owners that the “flood gates will open next week” as more bills are expected from anti-gunners.

SB 55, Senator Salim, requires that a person must wait three days before a purchased or rented firearm can be transferred to them.  Gun sales, both private and commercial, will require a buyer to make two trips to a dealer to get the firearm, and such trips could be lengthy.  The bill will also do severe harm to gun shows, as most are only two days long and would therefore require all purchasers to travel to a gun store, possibly across the state, to pick up the firearm.  There are many sad cases where someone who urgently needed a firearm for self-defense was murdered while in the waiting period.  California has a 10-day waiting period, with plenty of mass murders and a violent crime rate double that of Virginia in 2022.  Virginia has the 9th lowest crime rate in the U.S.
SB 57, Senator Salim, makes it illegal for a concealed handgun permit holder to carry a concealed handgun onto the premises of any restaurant or club which sells alcoholic beverages for on-premise consumption.  This is a classic example of a solution looking for a problem to solve.  Virginia’s 680,000 permit holders, as well as hundreds of thousands of non-resident permit holders visiting Virginia, have been peaceably carrying concealed handguns in restaurants and clubs that serve alcohol since 2010.

These bills would be major steps backward if they were to be enacted into law. SB 55 would not only create havoc with gun shows across the Old Dominion, but as Van Cleave points out, would almost certainly cause Virginians who need access to a firearm to protect themselves against a known threat like an angry ex or a violent stalker to be left utterly defenseless instead while leaving violent criminals untouched.

SB 57 is just as absurd. For over a decade Virginians with valid concealed carry licenses have been able to carry in restaurants that serve alcohol without issue, but now Salim wants to create a brand new “gun-free zone” that would once again disarm the law-abiding without impacting those with violent intentions. Restaurant and club owners who want to make their businesses off-limits to those who are legally carrying can already do so if they choose, but Salim’s bill would impose a blanket restriction on concealed carry regardless of what policy the business owner wants to have in place. There’ve been multiple courts around the country that have already shot down (no pun intended) similar prohibitions, ruling that they don’t comport with the text of the Second Amendment or the national tradition of gun ownership, but Salim and other Democrats in the legislature seem hell-bent on turning the state into East California when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms regardless of what judges, Virginia gun owners, or the governer has to say.

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