Mr. Jim Snyder March 21, 2017
Virginia Citizens Defense League
Dear Mr. Snyder:
Thank you for allowing me to respond to your survey. After review, it is clear to me that it is primarily intended for a candidate seeking legislative office. Indeed, virtually every question asks whether I will support or oppose legislation.
I am running for Attorney General precisely because the current holder of the office believes he is a super-legislator and not an attorney serving the Commonwealth of Virginia. I have spent my life defending our Constitution as a Naval Officer and lawyer, and I take serving as an attorney very seriously. Having never run for office before, I made the decision to run for Attorney General after very serious consideration. I am not a politician, and I seek a very specific office for which I believe I am qualified.
For that reason, I have endeavored to answer these questions with an eye towards the office I seek, and I hope that it informs your membership of my strong views on the importance of the Second Amendment.
Candidate for Attorney General
(Answers in italics)
1. Virginia does not have any law prohibiting law-abiding citizens from legally carrying a firearm in a public place in open view (open carry). Thus, no permit is required in Virginia to open carry. However, Virginia does require a permit for those who choose to carry a firearm concealed.
Some states recognize that every citizen has the right to carry a gun, openly or concealed, for all lawful purposes. While Vermont neither requires nor issues permits at all, 11 other states (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Wyoming) continue to issue optional permits for those who wish to take advantage of reciprocity agreements with other states. Many are calling this "Constitutional Carry".
Will you SUPPORT "Constitutional Carry" legislation that would allow law-abiding citizens to carry firearms openly or concealed (at the individual's discretion) for any reason except for the commission of a crime, while still allowing the individual the option of applying for a concealed handgun permit?
As the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia, I will defend Constitutional Carry legislation if passed by the General Assembly.
2. Virginia law generally prohibits the carrying of guns in both public and private K-12 schools, except for the police (including off-duty, vacationing LEOs from other states) and judges and Commonwealth Attorneys with no firearms training.
So, an untrained judge or even an off duty, vacationing game warden from Hawaii can legally carry a loaded gun into a Virginia school classroom, but a Virginia parent with a concealed handgun permit and training can't even get out of his car. This ban 1) infringes the rights of law abiding Virginians, 2) grants special privileges to citizens of other states who know little or nothing of Virginia law, and 3) makes it almost certain that children and school personnel would remain helpless in the face of a Columbine type of attack by a deranged student or stranger who will ignore the law against bringing a gun in the School.
Will you SUPPORT legislation to more closely conform school gun policy with federal standards by allowing concealed handgun permit holders to have a gun on their person while on school grounds?
I will defend laws passed by the Virginia General Assembly to more closely and lawfully align state law with federal law.
3. Virginia law does not prohibit the carry or possession of firearms on College and university property. However, many colleges and universities have established policies prohibiting students and staff from possessing or carrying firearms on campus. Students risk expulsion and staff risk being fired if they violate these policies.
Unfortunately, these "no guns" policies only disarm the law-abiding who are then unable to provide for their own defense, as seen in recent school massacres where such gun control was in effect.
Bills were introduced in both 2006 and 2007 Legislative Sessions to eliminate these college "victim disarmament zones". They were defeated, ensuring that criminals and murderers will have the upper hand.
As the tragedy at Virginia Tech proved, the "I'm unarmed, please don't hurt me" approach is not an effective means of self defense, especially when faced with a violent criminal determined to kill. Unfortunately, the police can't be everywhere all the time and usually arrive after the Crime to take a report from any survivors.
Will you SUPPORT legislation that would prevent public colleges and universities from penalizing students, faculty, staff, and guests with concealed handgun permits who carry on campus?
As a threshold matter, I believe the wording of this question is highly insensitive to the victims of the Virginia Tech tragedy and their families. I will defend legislation from the Virginia General Assembly that protects the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding students and citizens with concealed carry permits on college campuses.
4. Effective July 1, 2010, concealed handgun permit holders are allowed to carry concealed in all restaurants in Virginia provided they don't consume any alcoholic beverages while carrying Concealed. However, on & off duty Virginia police officers, retired law enforcement officers, vacationing law enforcement from other states, Commonwealth Attorneys, and any judge or justice of the Commonwealth are all exempted from this prohibition. This unAmerican arrangement creates two classes of citizens: those on the government payroll who get special privileges and the rest of us who don't.
It seems only appropriate that there should be one standard for whether or not it is appropriate for Someone carrying a concealed handgun to consume alcoholic beverages in a restaurant.
Will you SUPPORT legislation to eliminate this double standard on carrying of concealed handguns in restaurants licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for on premises consumption?
As a hunter and lifelong owner of firearms, I believe a cardinal rule is that you do not possess a firearm while consuming alcohol. I will defend any effort to eliminate the double standard.
5. Gun Control advocates frequently attempt to discourage gun ownership by creating a patchwork of differing local government ordinances. Most recently, efforts have been made to authorize Roanoke, Richmond, Norfolk, and Fairfax County to enact ordinances restricting the carrying or possession of firearms in certain municipal facilities.
Will you OPPOSE any bill that allows localities to restrict the carrying or possession of firearms by law-abiding citizens in recreation centers, libraries, or other local government facilities?
As Attorney General of Virginia, I will advise the General Assembly that they may not delegate any authority to localities that would infringe on our citizens' Second Amendment rights. I would further use the full power of the Attorney General's Office to challenge localities that take steps to infringe on our citizens' Second Amendment Right.
6. Like most states, Virginia preempts localities from enforcing their own homemade gun control ordinances to prevent gun owners from running afoul of a patchwork of criminal laws. But even though statewide firearms preemption was enacted in Virginia way back in 1987, and was further clarified and strengthened in 2002, 2003, and 2004, localities continue to enact and enforce local gun control ordinances. As recently as Spring 2007, the City of Norfolk enacted a "gun ban" and then proceeded to arrest a law-abiding individual for violating this invalid local ordinance.
Individuals who violate the law are subject to mandatory penalties. But localities, even when losing in Court when these illegal gun bans are challenged, merely MAY have to pay reasonable attorney fees, expenses, and court costs to citizens who prevail in declaratory actions.
Will you SUPPORT legislation that would REQUIRE localities to pay reasonable attorney fees, expenses, and court costs to citizens who prevail in declaratory actions against illegal gun bans?
As an Attorney General candidate, this appears to be a strictly legislative decision. I would ensure all laws comply with the Constitution of Virginia.
7. Gun Control advocates have made a concerted effort to demonize gun shows as a place where criminals have ready access to firearms. However, according to a 2001 U.S. Department of Justice report, only 0.7% of criminals got their guns from gun shows.
The terms "gun show loophole" and "unlicensed gun dealer" have been fabricated to mislead the public into believing that gun shows permit gun transfers that would be forbidden anywhere else. There is nothing that can be done legally at a gun show that cannot also be done legally outside of a gun show.
Will you OPPOSE any legislation designed to ban non-dealer private gun transfers (whether at gun shows or outside of gun shows)?
In the event the General Assembly attempts to inhibit private gun transfers, I will be an ardent defender of the Second Amendment in advising the General Assembly on all of its actions.
8. In addition to efforts to close the non-existent "gun show loophole", gun control advocates have recently started pushing "universal background checks" in an effort to criminalize all non-dealer private gun transfers. The only way to implement and enforce private seller background checks is to implement gun registration so the government knows who has what guns and when any transfers take place.
Will you OPPOSE any “universal background check" legislation?
In the event the General Assembly attempts to enact universal background checks, I will be an ardent defender of the Second Amendment in advising the General Assembly on all of its actions.
9. Gun control advocates have attempted to ban various classes of firearms and related items Such as:
- semi-automatic copies of popular military rifles and carbines (strictly due to their cosmetic appearance when they are, in fact, identical in function to standard semi-automatic hunting rifles)
- inexpensive and affordable handguns (frequently demonized with the racist and fear-inducing "Saturday Night Special" label)
- high-capacity magazines (standard capacity magazines misrepresented as "high-capacity" based solely upon an arbitrary definition of what is "high-capacity")
- expensive, top shelf guns (like .50 caliber rifles)
As your Attorney General, I will use all the powers of my office to fight against any gun ban that violates the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
10. With the recent push by the federal government to ban various types of guns and magazines, and with talk of registration and even confiscation, it is very important that Virginia protect its citizens as much as possible from having constitutional rights unlawfully stripped away.
Will you SUPPORT legislation to prevent any agency, political subdivision, or employee of Virginia from assisting the Federal government of the United States in any investigation, prosecution, detention, arrest, search, or seizure, under the authority of any federal statute enacted, or Executive Order or regulation issued, after December 31, 2016, that infringes on the individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms by imposing new restrictions on private ownership, private transfer of firearms, firearm magazines, ammunition, or components thereof?
As Attorney General, I will use all power granted to me to challenge any laws or regulations that infringe on our citizens' Second Amendment rights. In addition, I will challenge any law or regulation that improperly commandeers Virginia to enforce an unconstitutional federal law.
11. Most firearms experts recognize that mechanical devices, such as trigger locks, create an extremely dangerous condition, whereby a gun can be fired accidentally. These dangerous "lock up your safety" devices may render a firearm ineffective when most needed and leave an individual or family defenseless and vulnerable to attack. Additionally, trigger locks create a false sense of security similar to that created when child safety caps were mandated which resulted in a significant increase in child poisonings when parents came to rely on the "safety" caps rather than education to protect their children.
Will you OPPOSE government mandated use of trigger locks or other such hazardous "safety" devices which have the effect of making it difficult, if not impossible, to have a gun available to defend your home and family?
I will oppose any government mandates that unconstitutionally limit a law-abiding citizen's ability to have a gun available to defend their home and family.
12. Most experts agree that "ballistic fingerprinting" is not a valid fingerprinting of firearms but rather just a snapshot in time because the markings on the shell and bullets change over time with use, parts replacement, and/or intentional modifications.
Will you OPPOSE any legislation designed to impose these useless and expensive "feel good” ballistic fingerprinting schemes in the Commonwealth?
As your Attorney General, I will ensure all legislation complies with the Virginia Constitution and United States Constitution. As Attorney General, I cannot be held accountable if the Virginia General Assembly passes otherwise lawful, but “useless and expensive,” legislation -- that is on them!
13. In 2006, VCDL identified 14 different regulations in the Virginia Administrative Code (VAC) that restrict the possession or carrying of firearms but do not have any statutory authority for such restrictions. See: oldsite.vcdl.org/pdf/VCDL Memo to AG on VAC.pdf. These regulations punish law-abiding citizens lawfully exercising their rights.
Since this memo was published, nearly a dozen colleges and universities have added regulations to the VAC restricting the possession and carrying of firearms.
Will you TAKE ACTION to eliminate these invalid VAC regulations?
When I am elected Attorney General, I will create a task force to conduct a review of the Virginia Administrative Code. I will take all appropriate steps to remove any regulations that exceed their statutory authority.
14. In 1989, the Supreme Court of Virginia (SCOVA) MANDATED, in Diffendal vs Commonwealth, that "Moreover, the force used must be reasonable in relation to the harm threatened." However, in 1995, the General Assembly changed concealed weapons permits from "weapon" permits, to "handgun" permits, stripping Virginians of ANY less than lethal option, despite SCOVA's mandate. This puts case law and the Code of Virginia in direct conflict with each other, and creates a dangerous liability for all carriers in Virginia, open or concealed.
Will you SUPPORT less-lethal options for Virginia's citizens by restoring Virginia's concealed handgun permit back into a concealed weapons permit, as it was prior to 1995?
As Attorney General, I will defend legislation from the General Assembly that seeks to restore Virginia's concealed handgun permit back into a concealed weapons permit.