Earlier this year, Gov. Terry McAuliffe admirably defended the rights of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and others by signing legislation that restored Virginia’s concealed carry reciprocity with 25 states. This allowed millions of law-abiding gun owners to travel safely in and out of the commonwealth while ensuring the rights of Virginians are recognized in states that have concealed carry reciprocity agreements.

In doing so, McAuliffe reversed the executive actions of Attorney General Mark Herring that would have severely curtailed Virginians’ Second Amendment rights while also withstanding pressure from the anti-Second Amendment lobby, which is funded in large part by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The governor’s actions were commendable and rightly applauded by those who care deeply about protecting the Second Amendment.

That’s why it’s been disappointing in recent months to see McAuliffe take steps backward by issuing an executive order immediately banning openly carried firearms in state office buildings and seeking to extend that ban to concealed firearms as well. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that thousands of Virginians and Second Amendment supporters across the country have voiced their opposition to this edict and are seeking the restoration of their Second Amendment rights. Law-abiding Virginians have the right to self-defense — particularly in high-profile buildings that could well be targets for terrorists.

Study after study has shown that concealed carry permit-holders are among the most law-abiding citizens in our society. They have filed the proper paperwork, completed the required coursework and sought out the training necessary for effective self-defense. Criminals don’t do any of that. That’s why it’s not a coincidence that cities like Chicago which have some of the most restrictive gun rights laws in the country also have some of the highest crime rates — because the only armed individuals are the criminals.

And that is what is especially troubling with McAuliffe’s effort to strip law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves in state office buildings. In doing so, he’s advertising to evil-doers that these buildings are soft targets where citizens will not have the ability to fight back. Frankly, that’s why many of us in the Second Amendment community encourage concealed carry rather than open carry: It offers a tactical advantage and gives gun owners peace of mind to know they can effectively defend themselves if necessary.

Lastly, the governor’s executive order should particularly alarm women and minorities. A recent study by the Crime Prevention Research Center found that over the past four years the number of women with concealed carry permits has increased twice as quickly as the number of men with permits, while permit-holding is increasing about 75 percent more quickly among minorities than among whites. McAuliffe is essentially forcing these Americans to check their Second Amendment rights at the door when entering state office buildings, while ensuring the only ones armed are the criminals.

The Virginia Department of General Services is currently receiving public comments until October 2 on extending the governor’s anti-Second Amendment executive order to include concealed carry firearms as well. For Virginians who believe deeply in the Second Amendment and the right to self-defense, now is the time to make your voices heard. We hope the governor will reconsider his effort to limit concealed carry rights.

Tim Schmidt is the president and founder of the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, and may be contacted at Press@USCCA.com.

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