Three gun-rights bills heading for the Virginia Senate floor hit a snag Thursday over proxy votes that had been improperly cast in committee.
The Senate voted to send the bills — including one that would lift the state’s one-per-month limit on handgun purchases — back to the Senate Committee on Courts of Justice. The move was not expected to imperil the bills, only delay their arrival to the full Senate for a final vote.
The committee approved the bills Wednesday, advancing them to the Senate. But on Thursday, Sen. Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment (R-James City) announced that he wanted to send the bills back to committee because of concerns about the “integrity of the [committee voting] process.”
Norment said that two proxies had been used to vote on some of the bills on behalf of senators who were no longer on Capitol Square. The use of proxies is only permitted if the lawmaker remains in the area, senators said.
Norment, who is chairman of the committee, did not identify the committee members who were absent and voted by proxy. Other members of the committee identified them as Norment and Sen. Jill Vogel (R-Winchester). They could not be reached later for comment.
Norment said there was “nothing nefarious” about what happened. He described it as an “innocent and unintentional” procedural mistake.
In addition to lifting the one-per-month limit, bills sent back to the committee included the so-called castle doctrine, which would allow a person, without civil liability, to use deadly force against an intruder to his or her dwelling.
The other bill would prevent localities from requiring, as some do now, that people seeking concealed handgun permits submit fingerprints as part of their applications.