Herring Unilaterally Ends Concealed Carry Reciprocity With 25 States

In an unprecedented move, Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring has taken his partisan political activism to a new level, lashing out against gun owners through his office’s unilateral invalidation of concealed carry reciprocity agreements with 25 states.

In a press conference held earlier today, Herring announced that law-abiding citizens holding concealed carry permits from the states of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming will be prohibited from carrying a concealed firearm in Virginia effective February 1st, 2016, despite holders of those permits having successfully passed a criminal records background check in their home state.

The consequences of Herring’s radical anti-Second Amendment agenda will not be limited to law-abiding citizens from other states. As a result of his unilateral action, Virginians holding a concealed carry permit issued by the Commonwealth will lose their reciprocity with Florida, Louisiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wyoming – each of which will no longer recognize Virginia’s permit as a result of Herring’s decision to dishonor theirs.

Delegate Rob Bell, Herring’s presumptive Republican challenger in the 2017 race for Attorney General, was swift and forceful in his denunciation of Herring’s actions.

“This is another Washington-style overreach from a nakedly partisan Attorney General,” said Delegate Rob Bell (R-Albemarle). “The Attorney General’s job is to faithfully interpret and enforce the law of the Commonwealth. Virginians who have concealed carry permits may lose the ability to protect themselves when traveling in 25 states. Instead of doing the job he was elected to do, Mark Herring continues to put the political goals of his liberal supporters ahead of sound legal judgement.”

Speaker of the House Bill Howell (R-Stafford) pledged immediate action to review Herring’s move, declaring, “The House of Delegates will immediately begin a careful review of the Attorney General’s findings.”

“Unfortunately, I have little doubt as to his true motivations,” continued Howell. “Despite promising to take politics out of the Attorney General’s office, Mark Herring consistently seeks to interpret and apply the law of the Commonwealth through the lens of his own personal, political opinions.”

Other Republican legislators weighed in as well.

“This is just the latest in a series of efforts by the McAuliffe administration to restrict the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Virginians,” said Delegate Ben Cline (R-Rockbridge) in a statement to Bearing Drift. “Rest assured that conservatives in the House and Senate will fight back against this latest gun-grab, as well as the entire liberal agenda of the McAuliffe-Northam-Herring administration.”

House Republicans will be busy in the forthcoming legislative session fighting back against executive overreach by McAuliffe and Herring. This latest executive branch action follows an earlier executive order issued by Governor McAuliffe directing the implementation of gun-free zones in all buildings occupied, controlled, or maintained by the executive branch, ranging from Virginia’s DMV to its ABC stores. House Republicans have pledged to fight that executive action, as well.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League has also announced plans to fight back and make overturning Herring’s action a priority at their annual lobby day to be held on Monday, January 18th.

“Just like the McAuliffe’s state-agency gun ban, this isn’t about public safety at all,” said VCDL president Philip Van Cleave. “It is about vindictively attacking CHP holders, paying back Bloomberg for campaign donations, and coddling criminals and terrorists.”

Make no mistake: Herring’s partisan political posturing is a wide-ranging infringement of the rights of Americans from across the nation which will make Virginians less safe at home and when traveling outside the Commonwealth. As a result of Herring’s actions, law-abiding visitors will find themselves disarmed and unable to defend themselves, as will Virginians traveling to the six states which will no longer honor Virginia’s concealed carry permits.

Herring has a long history of hostility towards concealed carry. While a state Senator, Herring voted against fellow Senator Mark Obenshain’s concealed carry privacy bill, which protected holders of concealed carry permits from having their personal information disclosed in connection with a Freedom of Information Act request. Herring also voted against restaurant carry for three years in a row, before that, too, finally passed as a result of Republican efforts.

Herring’s executive overreach will have an immediate impact on Virginia tourism and the jobs it creates. With gun owners from 25 states now facing barriers to visiting Virginia, tourism revenue will be expected to fall, particularly among industries and localities which cater to sportsmen and outdoorsmen for whom reciprocity factors into their travel plans.

Terry McAuliffe ran in 2013 promising a platform of “Putting Jobs First” – then, along with his running mates, proceeded to bring a new level of partisan politicization to Virginia’s executive branch.

Shortly after McAuliffe’s election, firearms manufacturer Beretta announced it had eliminated Virginia as a potential location for the relocation of its factory in Maryland. In their announcement, Beretta cited McAuliffe’s anti-Second Amendment rhetoric as the basis for their decision.

Herring’s unilateral action will also prompt an increase in the open carry of firearms across the Commonwealth, as that method of carry is not subject to the laws governing the possession of concealed weapons. Facing the choice to disarm, stay home, or carry openly, some gun owners will choose to carry openly.

In disarming law-abiding citizens who have passed background checks, Mark Herring’s nakedly partisan agenda undermines the safety and security of Virginians and those who visit the Commonwealth, while doing nothing to target armed criminals already in violation of Virginia’s gun laws. This Washington-style overreach is merely the latest action undertaken by Herring to politicize his office while ignoring the job he was elected to do. Rather than undertaking his constitutional duty to uphold Virginia’s laws and keep its residents safe, Herring’s latest action accomplishes precisely the opposite, putting politics ahead of safety and jobs.


Update: 6:20 PM

Virginia Senate Republican Caucus Co-Chair Mark Obenshain joined in the growing GOP denunciation of Herring’s pointless action, emphasizing the pure politics at play, noting that the course taken was baseless and unsupported by evidence.

“In his announcement, the Attorney General has not pointed to a single crime committed by an out-of-state concealed weapons permit holder legally carrying in Virginia under the reciprocity agreement; not one,” stated Obenshain.  “Indeed, the State Police concede that they are not aware of any either. It is evident that this is nothing more than liberal window dressing and political payback for the millions of dollars former New York Mayor Bloomberg has pumped into the campaigns of Virginia Democrats, including that of the Attorney General, over the past two and a half years.”

Though Herring’s unilateral action constitutes a serious blow to Virginians’ Second Amendment rights, gun owners across the Commonwealth can breathe some relief knowing that, in Obenshain, they have a powerful pro-Second Amendment voice within Senate leadership.

Obenshain, who lost to Herring in 2013’s race for Attorney General by less than a thousand votes made the contrast between his position and Herring’s crystal clear. Had Virginians elected Mark Obenshain, reciprocity would likely be expanding, not artificially curtailed at the hands of Herring.

“I remember well the campaign promises made by Mark Herring as he ran for Attorney General,” concluded Obenshain. “He promised that he would take the politics out of the Attorney General’s office. The level of his insincerity rises to new heights with each passing month.”

  • Looks to me like Herring is following the law based on determination by the State Police that continued reciprocity with these states would permit people who would not qualify for concealed carry in Virginia to carry anyway with an out-of-state permit. This certainly is about public safety.

    Herring may or may not like the politics of this, but he may have had little choice but to follow Virginia Code.

    • Bill Steinbach

      North Carolina has stricter requirements for concealed carry than Virginia does, so why was the agreement with North Carolina cancelled as well?

      • Ask the State Police.

      • Scout

        Not sure how the State Police deal with comparability issues in determining which states are more or less strict than the Commonwealth. In some cases, it’s probably pretty clear, others a bit more murky. Nonetheless, the surprise in this story for me is that there are any states with standards more lax than Virginia’s for carrying concealed. I’m sure a fair number of readers here have Virginia CCPs. If so, they know that the standards here are lower than a basement doorsill. That there are 25 states (or thereabouts) with lower standards really beggars the imagination.

        Having said that, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to prevent people who would not qualify to carry concealed in Virginia from going out of state, getting a permit there and then coming back in asserting an ability to carry concealed. If each state did not have the authority to impose its own standards, every state would be at the mercy of the lowest level of constraints on that privilege (and it is a privilege, not a right – carrying concealed deadly weapons is a matter that the individual states have a strong public safety interest in regulating).

    • JBluen

      BS. The requirements for concealed carry permits in these 25 states didn’t just materialize. They’ve been in place for years, decades in some cases. No prior AG had any issues with these reciprocity agreements until Bloomberg pulled Herring’s strings. And as you’ve been informed below, some of these states have more stringent requirements than Virginia. Stop making excuses. This is yet another example of neo-Puritanical leftist infringement on people’s civil rights for the sake of unearned moral superiority.

      • Scout

        This is about standards for concealed carry, JBluen. What “rights” are involved? Do you think it a good thing that a person ineligible for a CHP under Virginia law can go to a state that grants permits to non-residents and then expect to carry concealed here?

  • Downstater

    Can he unilaterally do this? Yo, Speaker Howell and others…..Every time Herring oversteps and the Republicans don’t stop him, his answer is “yes I can do this – I just did”.

    • Herring did nothing unilaterally. Virginia code requires periodic State Police audits of concealed carry laws in other states. It then mandates an end to reciprocity with those states whose laws don’t include prohibitions Virginia’s law bans, or don’t have a system for rapid verification that an applicant should not be kept from carrying a concealed weapon.

      Reisigner wants to frame this as a political attack on the Second Amendment. It is not. Instead, it’s enforcement of Virginia Code provisions designed to ensure that residents of other states who could not get a concealed carry permit in Virginia cannot circumvent Virginia law by obtaining one in another state.

      • Steven Richards

        Looking at the requirements to get a CCW from Florida and Tennessee, two states cancelled in the reciprocity debacle, their requirements are more stringent than Virginia! This move smacks of pure political maneuvering as has been mentioned, and I don’t believe the General Assembly will stand for this once they convene. I am going to Richmond with many others on Lobby day 1.18.15 to fight for our rights! May others join me!

  • Why no mention in the article that the REPUBLICANS voted for this crap in the 2013 Session, just like most voted to give the Governor powers to ban weapons in state agencies in the 2012 Session…

    Including all of the Republicans quoted in this article….words have meaning and we know now we can’t trust republicans to conserve 2A freedoms in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

  • TVal

    The Virginia Republicans failed to stand up to Herring when he attacked Virginia law on marriage, so what did they expect? They emboldened him.

  • Very few people have questioned the apparent complicity of the Virginia State Police and Colonel Steven Flaherty in this matter.

  • Dave Webster

    Why no mention of Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. W. Steven Flaherty who actually was the man who implemented this decision. He could have said “No.”

    • We think alike, sir.

      • Dave Webster

        Quite true Bruce.

  • Herring’s unilateral action will also prompt an increase in the open
    carry of firearms across the Commonwealth, as that method of carry is
    not subject to the laws governing the possession of concealed weapons.
    Facing the choice to disarm, stay home, or carry openly, some gun owners
    will choose to carry openly.

    Of all of the possible arguments that could be used against this directive, this is the stupidest one.

  • I notice that Lee Ware prefiled a bill in November that would get rid of this problem. I don’t really believe in coincidences when it comes to the General Assembly, so I’m wondering if somebody knew this action was going to happen in late December.


  • matthew

    Well I hope for the sake that the Virginian government changes the standard’s of this new law, I live in Wyoming so there’s no restriction’s here.
    However when my family used to go to Virginia I do believe my dad was carrying a concealed weapon every time, and he was allowed to do so if he had a temp none-resident counseled carry permit.
    So I strongly recommend that Virginia keep’s their honor, for the 25 state’s; who may take offence to this and believe it to be unconstitutional or unlawful because it infringes upon the other state’s right’s, including Virginia’s.


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