Virginia Democrat's Bill Seeks to Ban Indoor Shooting Ranges
Move would outlaw ranges not controlled by the state, including NRA's HQ
A Virginia state Democrat has introduced a new bill that seeks to ban indoor gun ranges that aren't controlled by the commonwealth, according to reports.
Virginia House Bill 567, introduced by Democratic State Delegate Dan Helmer on January 6, would outlaw ranges that employ more than fifty people, which would shut down the popular range at the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Virginia headquarters.
Additional legislation introduced by Helmer would also cancel reciprocity for concealed-carry holders from other states.
"Yes, this plan would affect the NRA, we also think it will save lives,” Helmer told the local news outlet, Prince William Times.
The proposal is part of a larger fight on constitutional gun rights that's set to dominate this year's legislative session.
Helmer cited workplace mass shootings for his push, including one in a Virginia Beach municipal building that left 12 people dead in May of 2019.
“This bill would make sure that we don't have people bringing large quantities of firearms and ammunition into office buildings,” Noah Bardash, Helmer’s aide, told the Prince William Times.
“This bill would likely impact the NRA's indoor range.”
Helmer claims he isn't targeting the NRA per se, but said he was not aware of any other specific shooting ranges in the state that would be affected by his bill, according to the New York Times.
“There are millions of people who work in office buildings in the Commonwealth of Virginia," he said.
“It doesn't make sense for us to be establishing businesses in those buildings that have people bringing lots of firearms and ammunition."
The legislation wouldn’t shut down all indoor ranges, just the vast majority of them.
HB 567 would only allow indoor shooting ranges to exist in buildings owned or leased by the state of Virginia or the federal government.
The legislation would also permit an indoor range to operate if at least 90 percent of the people who used it were local, state, or federal law enforcement officers.
The range would be required to verify the identity of each user and keep a log of each shooter’s name, phone number, address, and where they are a law enforcement officer.
Fauquier County Board of Supervisors Chairman Chris Butler said he didn’t think any ranges in his county were affected by HB 567 but that he objected to the proposed measure for safety reasons, the Prince William Times reported.
“I would think having safe ranges that will educate novice shooters and offer a place for experienced shooters to go and remain proficient with their firearms is what we want in Virginia,” Butler said.
"I see no ‘safety measure’ in this proposal."
The NRA, which operates a gun range at their headquarters in Fairfax County, said they opposed the proposed law because it would do away with jobs and “destroy small businesses in Virginia without reducing crime.”
“In addition to generating about $18 million each year in revenues, the state’s ranges are the epicenter for vital safety training,” NRA Spokesperson Catherine Mortensen told the Prince Williams Times.
“This is where our law enforcement community comes to train alongside families and individuals seeking skills for home and self-defense.”
Helmer has also introduced two additional gun-control bills, the Prince William Times reported.
House Bill 568 would ban the open carry of firearms in vehicles.
And House Bill 569 would effectively cancel reciprocity between Virginia and residents of other states who hold concealed-carry permits in their own states.
Helmer’s bills were only the latest attempt by the state’s newly-installed Democratic majority who have vowed to institute gun control in the famously pro-gun state that is home to the NRA.
Over ninety counties and municipalities in #Virginia have now declared themselves #SecondAmendment sanctuaries in response to the Democrat-controlled state government's #GunControl push, according to reports.— Neon Nettle (@NeonNettle) December 16, 2019
READ MORE: https://t.co/5BFJsa1LFf
The Virginia attorney general vowed to enforce controversial new gun-control laws on Dec. 28, 2019 even as Democratic legislators in the state were gearing up for the showdown by increasing the state’s corrections budget.
"When the General Assembly passes new gun violence legislation, they will be followed, and they will be enforced," Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said, according to WUSA.
"We’re talking about very reasonable gun violence legislation that has broad public support," Herring insisted.
But other politicians and law enforcement officials had a very different opinion on what will happen as a result of new gun-control laws passed in the 2020 legislative session, WUSA reported.
Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman-At-Large Corey Stewart represents an area that has declared itself a Second Amendment Sanctuary County.
"That doesn’t mean that the localities and the local sheriffs have to use their resources to enforce a gun confiscation law, or any other unconstitutional law that Democrats and the general assembly pass,” Stewart pointed out to WUSA.
He said opposition to the newly-proposed gun-control laws is strong across the entire state.
"The Attorney General is delusional if he thinks this is just some movement that’s been ginned up by the so-called gun lobby," Stewart said.
"This is a groundswell movement if there ever was one."
A number of sheriffs have spoken out and said they will not enforce the proposed gun laws in the area if passed.
When Virginia Governor Richard Northam threatened there could be consequences for the counties that didn’t follow the new laws, some sheriffs announced that they had figured out how to do it without violating their oaths of office.
“If the legislature decides to restrict certain weapons I feel harms our community, I will swear in thousands of auxiliary deputies in Culpeper,” Culpepper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins, who was just re-elected for a third term in office, said.
“There’s no limit to the number of people I can swear in.”
Despite the pushback, the Democratic-controlled state legislature is getting prepared to lock up Virginians who refuse to fall in line with their new gun-control laws.
They’ve even added money to the state budget to account for that additional load on the state agency that runs the prisons when people who violate the new gun laws get locked up.