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Non-Virginians are getting permits online thanks to legislation Ken Cuccinelli sponsored.
Monday, May 13, 2013
RICHMOND — The number of non-Virginians obtaining state-issued concealed handgun permits has boomed in the four years since Ken Cuccinelli sponsored legislation making it clear online testing meets the legal training requirement for them.
One beneficiary of that increased demand is a Norfolk gun dealer, and Cuccinelli campaign contributor, who markets virtual training to out-of-staters whose home states have tougher permit standards than Virginia.
The number of nonresident permits issued has risen each year after the 2009 law change, from 1,179 in 2010 to 3,002 last year — a 154 percent increase. This year’s total of 2,803 through mid-May is on pace to again eclipse the previous year’s figure.
Online training through the Concealed Carry Institute website is a key line of business for Bob’s Gun Shop in Norfolk, where hands-on training is also offered. The site bills the course available since 2008 as the “ Internet’s first online firearms safety class” and charges customers $40 for training.
That satisfies training requirements for eligible permit applicants, making it appealing to those in states that honor Virginia permits, explained shop owner Robert Marcus. According to Virginia State Police, Virginia has reciprocity agreements in place with 13 states, and another 12 recognize Virginia permits.
Unlike the two-hour live training course, priced at $50, the online version does not give students a chance to handle a firearm. It consists of a 65-minute video and 20-question test.
Marcus estimates between 5 percent and 8 percent of his online students are non-Virginians. He declined to provide more specifics and Virginia State Police, the non resident permit issuing agency, doesn’t track that data point.
Residents of states that impose “strenuous requirements for obtaining a concealed handgun permit” are increasingly becoming aware Virginia’s non resident permit may be accepted in their state, Marcus said. He cited Texas, which he said requires 10 hours of training that includes shooting instruction comparable to “putting their residents through police training.”
The Concealed Carry Institute site markets to Texas residents. State data indicate the 1,081 Virginia permits granted to Texas residents last year was by far the most of any state.
Growth in online handgun training concerns Lori Haas of Virginians for Responsible Gun Laws, who sees it as a dangerous shortcut.
“To put them in the hands of residents, or nonresidents, and to expect them to responsibly handle a lethal weapon without training is ludicrous,” said Haas, whose daughter was wounded in the Virginia Tech shootings.
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who wrote his state’s handgun law while in legislature, has concerns, too:
“Every state has different laws. So if you take the online course in Virginia, you don’t learn the laws of Texas,” such as when deadly force is permitted, or places a gun can’t be carried, he noted.
Cuccinelli, the Republican attorney general now running for governor, in 2009 carried SB 1528, which made it clear that state law allows permit applicants to take online training for certification of firearm proficiency.
Virginia Public Access Project records show Marcus first donated to Cuccinelli in 2008 and has given him $17,500 overall, personally and through the Concealed Carry Institute, including $15,000 this year.
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