Bill to shield permit holders from police heads to governor

Following apparent instances of concealed carry licensees being targeted by police while individuals travel out of state, Virginia is one signature away from blocking off its permit database from some law enforcement.

The measure, which will refuse access to Virginia concealed weapon permit information to states that do not have a reciprocity agreement in place, passed the Republican controlled legislature by large margins this week and is now headed to Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) for approval.

“It’s the policy of entrapment that has been used based on the concealed carry exchange information that has precipitated this,” said Del. Bob Marshall, R-Prince William, who lent his support to the bill in the state Assembly, where it passed by a commanding 66-33 vote Tuesday.

The legislation, SB 948, mandates that only jurisdictions who in turn recognize the state’s concealed handgun permits will have access to the Virginia Criminal Information Network, which houses the database of permit holders.

According to data from the Virginia State Police, the Commonwealth has reciprocity or recognition agreements with some 30 states and territories. Notably, some nearby neighbors, to include Washington D.C. and Maryland, which for their part do not recognize any out of area permits, are not included on the list.

In December, concealed carry permit holder John Filippidis traveled from his home in Florida to New Jersey for the holidays and was stopped by Maryland Transportation Authority Police who detained the small business owner and family man for 55 minutes following a traffic stop.

Although Filippidis did not present his permit to police, and was not in possession of a firearm, he stated that officers repeatedly asked him of his firearms, apparently garnering the information through the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center, which allows access to the databases of other states.

As reported by the Washington Times, MTAP may have used the database to target other out of state concealed carry permit holders.

However, some Virginia lawmakers see the legislation as a pandora’s box of issues.

“This causes problems for law enforcement because law enforcement wants to have instant access to accurate information about the presence or possible presence of firearms in vehicles when they do traffic stops and when they arrest folks,” said Del. Marcus Simon, D-Falls Church.

Virginia SB 948 was transmitted to Gov. McAuliffe’s office Friday. McAuliffe, outspoken for his support for anti-gun measures that have been scuttled by the current session, has not commented on the legislation.

Should the Governor choose to veto the measure as he did with other gun reform legislation, its current number of supporting lawmakers makes a veto override within reach.