RICHMOND — The Virginia House on Wednesday passed a package of bills that make up a compromise on gun laws, forged by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Republican lawmakers over the objections of gun-control advocates.
The Republican-controlled House voted 72 to 26 to restore and expand the rights of concealed-carry handgun permit holders in Virginia and around the country.
Two pieces of companion legislation that would impose tighter restrictions on gun ownership by domestic abusers and allow voluntary background checks at gun shows passed more easily, by a vote of 96 to 3, with three Republicans dissenting.
“The agreement secures the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens and takes reasonable steps to make our communities safer,” House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) said in a statement. “This agreement shows what can be accomplished when we set aside our political rhetoric and work together for the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
Democrats also applauded the deal but said more needs to be done.
“I have worked hard on this issue, and I am glad we were able to finally take a positive step to prevent these tragedies,” said Del. Kathleen J. Murphy (D-Fairfax), the lead sponsor of the bill on protective orders. “More than half of women murdered with guns die at the hands of a domestic abuser. This bill will save lives.”
The concealed-carry permit bill would reverse a December move by Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) to revoke the reciprocity rights of hundreds of thousands of permit holders in 25 states whose standards are weaker than Virginia’s.
The bill not only restores concealed-carry reciprocity with those states, it also requires state police to enter into new reciprocity agreements with other states.
Herring, who was not part of negotiations over the current deal, praised Murphy’s intent. But he panned the overall agreement for coming “at the price of dangerous or irresponsible people carrying concealed handguns in Virginia.”
A nearly identical set of gun bills passed in the Senate last week. Each chamber’s bills must pass the opposite chamber before they will be sent to McAuliffe’s desk.
The governor has said he will sign the bills into law, despite strong criticism from a onetime political ally — Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun-control organization founded by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The group has responded to the deal on guns with a social media campaign and a full-page newspaper ad titled “Terry McAuliffe is wrong.”
McAuliffe, a New York native, responded by dismissing the opposition as coming from “one gun-safety group out of New York City.”
Last fall, Everytown spent more than $2 million to support Democratic candidates McAuliffe was backing for Virginia’s Senate, part of the governor’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to create a Democratic majority in that chamber.