September 6, 2016 Newsletter

A public hearing was recently held on the extensive regulatory process to strengthen a gun ban in state buildings.  The Department of General Services, the state agency that oversees government facilities, held a public hearing on the gun ban in Richmond last week as part of the regulatory process necessary to enact the governor’s order.

In an executive order issued weeks before last year’s General Assembly elections, McAuliffe immediately banned openly carried guns in most state offices. He directed the Department of General Services to develop a rule extending the ban to concealed firearms, which required a longer regulatory process. Wednesday’s hearing was centered on a permanent regulation to replace the temporary measure scheduled to expire in June 2017.

The proposed ban has been tweaked since the emergency order was put in place and would include exceptions for rest areas, state-owned cabins and other recreational facilities. It wouldn't apply to law enforcement or members of the military.

Comment was overwhelmingly against the idea, as it has been since the state started accepting public discussion on the matter. Officials are considering tweaks and exemptions in the wider ban Governor McAuliffe declared last October. The 4,400 comments received on the emergency regulation and the 1,900 on the more permanent version were overwhelmingly against the idea.

Gun owners who attended focused on concealed weapons. That ban targets some of the most law-abiding citizens Virginia, people with state-issued permits.

The ban impacts only buildings controlled by the executive branch, which is most of them. The exceptions are judicial buildings, which already had gun bans, and the General Assembly Building and the Capitol Building in Richmond, where carrying is allowed.

The comment period on the final regulation runs through October, then the wording will go through a series of reviews before a new 30 day comment period begins. Only then can the rule become permanent.

We narrowly missed overturning a McAuliffe veto this year on a bill to undo the ban in the General Assembly. This regulation is simply not wanted. Republicans in the General Assembly tried to pass a bill undoing the gun ban in the legislative session earlier this year. McAuliffe vetoed the bill and Republicans did not have enough votes to override it.

The next governor can start the process all over, for example, by calling for a new emergency regulation. The General Assembly can pass a law, though that's subject to the governor's veto.

The last two weeks I have travelled throughout the district attending events. I held a fundraiser in Altavista at the Avoca Museum, with Delegate Danny Marshall as my guest. It was a good time to get feedback and answer questions from constituents on matters important to them. Also in Altavista, I attended the Altavista Chamber’s Annual Legislative Breakfast and it was an honor to address the meeting with Congressman Robert Hurt, Senator Tom Garrett and Board of Supervisor’s member Stan Goldsmith.

I was also invited to attend the Hunters for the Hungry Night at Lynchburg City Stadium. Sponsoring this event is always a joy as I strongly support this local non-profit. That Saturday I attended the Appomattox 4H Shotgun Fundraiser held at the Holiday Lake 4H Center and that evening I was able to attend the Lockn Festival at Oak Ridge Farm as a guest. I am very pleased with this event and the opportunities it has given Nelson County.

If you have any concerns, questions, comments or issues that I or my Aide, Jenna, can help you with, please contact us at (434) 821-5929 or email at Delmfariss@house.virginia.gov. You can also keep up with me on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss.

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