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Posted at 5:20 PM ET, 07/12/2010

Virginia's 'separate reality' on handguns

By Peter Galuszka

One curious thing about the Old Dominion is the "separate reality" that one experiences between what the talking heads say and what really is.

Take the concealed handgun issue. As in many states, the more vocal Virginians who constantly see their Second Amendment rights in jeopardy have raised a cry that Barack Obama's ascension into the presidency would mean new, police state crackdowns on personal firearms.

This fear, which has about as much credibility as the one that Obamacare would lead to "death panels" selecting which among the elderly will die, has been repeated by groups including the Tea Party types to "Going Rogue" Sarah Palin-ites to militamen and others. Fueling the fear has been Republican Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, who backed a strange law to allow heat-packing Virginians to sit their rear ends on barstools in saloons as long as they have gun permits and do not drink alcohol. The law took effect July 1.

Come to find out that State Police records show that for the first half of 2010, gun permits have dropped 40 percent compared with the same period in 2009. One wonders: If Obama is going to crack down on gun laws, why are fewer people getting permits?

Or could it be that the threat to the Second Amendment has been grossly exaggerated by various right-wing bloggers, politicians, gun store owners, hunters and that peculiar individual who expects Obama to send the "black helicopters" after him as he stocks up on survival gear?

The odd part is that the state's police -- the ones who are actually in jeopardy from bullets -- aren't exactly in love with the expansion of handguns.

But what does that matter? Our gun nuts say they are law-abiding and love cops.

It's just another quirk of the Old Dominion, like the one that we all hate the federal government and its spending but love those federal, notably defense, bucks showered on Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

Peter Galuszka blogs at Bacon's Rebellion . The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Peter Galuszka  | July 12, 2010; 5:20 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Local blog network, Va. Politics, Virginia, crime, domestic violence, economy, guns, health care, media, military, police, wildlife  
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When Galuska learns to avoid pejorative terms ("gun nuts"), learns to spell the name of Virginia's governor correctly (not McDeonnell), and stops claiming as fact things we do not yet know as fact (Obamacare will not lead to death panels) then he can claim to be contributing to a sane and intelligent discussion. Till then he is not worth reading. Sorry I did.

Posted by: adfox123 | July 13, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

A few clarifications:

The "strange" law that McDonnell permitted to pass, allowing concealed carry in restaurants, brings Virginia into compliance with 42 other states in the union that allow the same, so it can hardly be called strange. The previous law required unnecessary handling of a firearm in order to leave it in a locked vehicle when dining out. The new law allows the firearm to remain in its holster untouched, minimizing the chance for accidents or theft.

Police reaction is mixed in reference to the new law, with law-enforcement groups coming out both in favor and against the new law. It would be incorrect to imply there is a solid consensus among them.

The drop in gun permits and sales is likely reflecting a return to normal levels after the "Obama boom" in 2009 that was fueled by concern over possible new restrictions. It does make sense that without new laws being implemented immediately, many people fears would be assuaged.

Our "gun nuts" here in VA are law abiding. Data backs up that while there are isolated cases of concealed carry permit holders committing gun crime, they are FAR below the rates of the average citizen. In general, concealed carry permit holders are more aware of the law and more willing to abide by the law. They respect law enforcement, and are willing to go through the proper channels for permitting before carrying a concealed weapon.

I agree with your article in that I feel the "talking heads" whip up a lot of emotion and empty fear - I often find it frustrating that they can't have more fact-based reporting. I also wonder if the American people haven't grown so apathetic that the only recourse left to get anything accomplished is to whip them up into a frenzy. Either way, though I agree with the general point of your article, I felt your examples were poorly thought out, and wanted to bring them some clarification.

Posted by: equacken | July 13, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

The one obvious point that you are missing is that the people who want concealed permits ALREADY HAVE THEM.

Concealed permits in VA are good for 5 years - so if you got one last year you obviously will not need one this year. This is the one fact that reporters seem to be missing in this issue.

But hey, why let facts get in the way of another chance to bash on VA or bash on gun owners, right? Stupid gun nuts.

Posted by: dcmidnight | July 13, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Dear adfox,
I apologize for misspelling McDonnell's name. You did the same to mine which is Galuszka, Not Galuska.
As for Virginians being law abiding, one need only to look at the gun-related tragedies at Virginia Tech and Appomattox County to find two terrible cases of gross misuse of guns.
Peter Galuszka

Posted by: pgaluszka | July 13, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Dear adfox,
I apologize for misspelling McDonnell's name. You did the same to mine which is Galuszka, Not Galuska.
As for Virginians being law abiding, one need only to look at the gun-related tragedies at Virginia Tech and Appomattox County to find two terrible cases of gross misuse of guns.
Peter Galuszka

Posted by: pgaluszka | July 13, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

The reason hard core conservatives believe Obama is anti-gun is that we know his voting record. Obama's votes in the US Senate were few as he amassed an incredible record of not taking a stand in the short time he was there but his Illinois house career reveals something interesting. A gentleman used a prohibited handgun in self defense to save his life from a violent criminal. He and was charged for having the gun (as if the cops would have been happier if the crook had killed him). The Illinois legislature passed a law barring prosecution in such cases. It was vetoed by then Governor Blogovich. The legislature overrode the veto on a second vote. Obama voted against the measure TWICE despite knowing the first vote had a large enough margin (85 to 15)to override a veto and the law was almost certain to pass. You can argue that he has signed two pro gun bills but both were amendments tacked onto other bills that he wanted passed and he had little choice in the matter. Paul, he is anti gun or he would support an individual's right to defend his or her own life and you may call me.... E. Zach Lee-Wright

Posted by: EZachLee | July 14, 2010 12:46 AM | Report abuse

The only one that has a separate reality is Mr. Galuszka. Virginia's right to keep and bear arms is perfectly in step with the vast majority of the country. CA, IL, MD, and DC being the odd men out.

Most states allow concealed handgun permit holders to carry concealed in restaurants. Virginia is just now catching up. And in states like NY and MA those permit holders can drink in restaurants while carrying concealed, something we can't do in VA unless we are a Commonwealth Attorney or an off-duty law enforcement officer.

Posted by: PAVC2 | July 14, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Granted, opinion pieces are just that, and not factual. However, civilized discourse should further discussion, not diatribe, and this piece does nothing to further discussion.

Ad hominem attacks -- "gun nuts" who "set their rear ends on barstools in saloons" -- do nothing to further discourse.

How about some facts? How about some citations? The only fact in this piece is that applications for concealed handgun licenses in Virginia (not "gun permits") dropped by 40% in a given period of time. Even that, out of context, means nothing. Is there a trend? What other factors influence the fact?

Remember high-school debate or rhetoric classes? Logic and facts go a long way toward legitimizing ones arguments.

Posted by: tbailsh | July 18, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

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