The Virginia Senate has passed legislation that will bar public access to concealed handgun permit records, sending the measure to Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Without debate, the Senate passed the measure today by a vote of 31-9. The vote came less than a week after a House of Delegates committee amended the bill to give it far greater reach than the original version of the legislation.
Senate Bill 1335, sponsored by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, originally had a narrow purpose. The bill was intended to prohibit circuit court clerks from disclosing concealed handgun permit records of individuals who have been granted protective orders and requested to have their permit records sealed. The Senate passed that version of the bill last month.
Last week, the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee, which is stacked with pro-gun legislators, amended the bill to put all concealed handgun permit records off limits to the public. Obenshain, a candidate for attorney general, embraced the change. The full House passed the amended version of the bill Tuesday by a vote of 76-23.
Gun control advocates and open government organizations were surprised by the House’s overhaul of the bill and tried to persuade lawmakers to oppose the amendment that expanded the bill’s reach. But after Obenshain offered a brief explanation of the legislation on the Senate floor today, the bill passed without any debate.
– Michael Sluss