Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday vetoed legislation to allow people who are covered by a protective order to carry a hidden handgun without getting a permit.
McAuliffe said Thursday that the legislation, Senate Bill 626 and House Bill 766, would have encouraged victims of domestic abuse to introduce guns into already dangerous situations.
“Domestic violence situations can be extremely volatile, and all too often result in serious injury or death,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “In fact, when firearms are present in a domestic violence situation, a woman is five times more likely to die. In 2014, Virginia experienced 112 family and intimate-partner-related homicides, 66 of which occurred with a firearm.”
The governor, a Democrat, tried unsuccessfully earlier this year to amend the legislation. McAuliffe wanted people covered by a protective order to take a firearms safety class before they could carry a concealed weapon, among other changes.
Republican supporters of the legislation said it would help victims of domestic violence better protect themselves.
The governor also vetoed a bill that would have allowed school security officers to carry firearms on school property under certain conditions.
“This bill would expose schools and students to unnecessary risk and potential harm by allowing individuals without adequate training to carry firearms on school grounds,” the governor said in a statement accompanying his veto of House Bill 1234.
The legislation, sponsored by Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William, would have allowed private school guards who are retired law enforcement officers to carry firearms on school grounds — the same privilege currently afforded to school resource officers, who are employees of a local law enforcement agency and assigned to public schools in some school systems.
McAuliffe’s statement on the veto drew a distinction between the two types of officers, noting that school resource officers “receive significant and ongoing training. School security officers, on the other hand, are civilian employees of a school division who do not receive training regarding firearms or the appropriate use of force with juveniles,” McAuliffe stated.
“Allowing additional firearms in schools without appropriate training would create an environment that is less, rather than more, secure.”
The governor said the bill also did not distinguish between old and recent law enforcement retirees who may be afforded the firearms privilege as part of the their school security duty. Nor did it distinguish retired Virginia law enforcement officers from out-of-state law enforcement officers who would have qualified to carry firearms as part of their security duties.
“This raises questions about the uniformity of previous training these individuals received,” the governor said.
Lingamfelter pointed out that the bill gave school systems the option to allow for armed security officers and would have required them to maintain firearms training to current standards.
“This is the sort of veto that’s done in indelible ink because one day — sadly after a tragedy — people will look back and remember this veto and say, ‘We should have put that bill in law,’” he said in a statement.
“This was a bill that had all the right prudent persuasions and it died a political death. Let’s hope no more deaths will be tied to this veto, but I fear more will.”
McAuliffe also vetoed House Bill 560, which would have narrowed the circumstances when a person could be charged for illegally pointing or brandishing a firearm.
“Making the change requested in this bill would create unintended consequences for prosecutors and law enforcement officers attempting to secure convictions for violators of this law,” McAuliffe said. “This proposed modification would unnecessarily burden our public safety officials and potentially create a defense for individuals who recklessly handle firearms.”