Marking his first veto of the year, Governor Ralph Northam (D) struck down a Republican-led measure that would require the Virginia State Police (VSP) to expedite concealed handgun permits for out-of-state residents. In a press release, Northam said the legislation “not only places an arbitrary and burdensome mandate on the Virginia Department of State Police, but would also undoubtedly result in ineligible nonresidents obtaining permits.”
After passing through the House of Delegates in late January with a 50-49 vote, the bill also garnered a strict 21-19 party-line vote in the State Senate weeks later. While upheld by the slim Republican majority, the bill will fail to become law.
Northam added in his veto that the proposal could lead the VSP to “irresponsibly utilize taxpayer dollars to prioritize nonresident applications over resident needs.” Moreover, the Democratic governor said the VSP has “limited staff and taxpayer dollars to expedite processing” and the bill would enforce an “unreasonable requirement” on the law enforcement agency.
It is unlikely the Republican-controlled General Assembly will gather the two-thirds vote necessary to override Governor Northam’s veto.
In an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Delegate Pogge explained that state officials have the ability to conduct background checks within a few days for people in emergency services and child care, including background checks that call for a multi-state review. She said the aim of her bill would do away with “institutional bias for private citizens to have handguns.”
“Right now it takes 120 to 150 days to get an out-of-state handgun permit, which it shouldn’t,” Delegate Pogge said.
“The question is, why can’t they get a background check done in 90 days?” she added. “It’s just foot-dragging, and the bill was an attempt to make these things faster, because they can be.”
On VSP’s website, under the section for non-resident concealed handgun permits, the agency states: “Due to a high volume of applications, the current processing time for nonresident concealed handgun permits is 3 to 6 months.”
Nevertheless, the Republican lawmaker rejected Northam’s assertion that a quicker processing time would strain the agency and their resources, also saying that non-residents pay just $100 for their applications.
VSP’s website also states all completed concealed weapons application packages for non-residents must include payment in the amount of $100.