Plenty of local gun laws are needlessly (and intentionally) vague. That gives police and prosecutors all kinds of wiggle room to prosecute or not, depending on “circumstances.” Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League wanted clarification of the Old Dominion’s law governing car carry. Virginian’s don’t need a permit to keep a heater in their Hyundai, but the law says the gun must be “secured.” Just what secured means depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is. So Van Cleave wanted an official opinion from AG Ken Cucinelli to pass on to the state’s gun owners. Make the jump for the whole magilla reprinted with permission from the VCDL’s email blast . . .
Whether you have a CHP or not, this is good news for all of us.
Several months ago I had asked my Delegate, Lee Ware, to put in a request to the Attorney General to clarify the law on someone without a CHP having a firearm “secured” in a container or compartment in a motor vehicle. As it turns out Senator Stephen Newman beat me to the punch. He asked the same question and also a couple of other related questions, making Senator Newman’s request a better one for the Attorney General to answer than my less encompassing question submitted by Lee Ware.
The main question centers around the word “secured.” Does it mean the container or compartment must be locked? (VCDL has always contended “no” to that question.) This had become an important issue as some people had been arrested and charged because either the police, the Commonwealth Attorney, or the judge had felt that “secured” meant locked. Others were not arrested or charged because “secured” was not interpreted to mean locked.
Cuccinelli’s opinion says, correctly, that the container does NOT need to be locked!
The opinion says that the gun can be loaded while secured in the container or compartment and can be within reach of both the driver and passengers. Again VCDL concurs.
This is good news for permit holders, too. For example, it would prevent a spouse or passenger without a permit from being charged for a gun left in a glovebox or console by a permit holder who has stepped away from the vehicle.
The opinion also says that private property owners can ban guns in vehicles if they so choose. We need to fix that one. A gun stored in a vehicle should always be allowed so that the gun owner is not disarmed while traveling to and from the private property. This is a clash of rights – the private property owner’s right to control who and what is on his property vs someone else’s right to be able to protect themselves while NOT on that private property. Allowing guns to be stored in vehicles is a good compromise position for both parties. In fact there are some states that consider a person’s private vehicle to be an extension of their home.
Thanks to Senator Newman and Delegate Lee Ware for asking the question and to Attorney General Cuccinelli for a clear and concise opinion.
Here is a link to the actual opinion from the AG’s web site: http://tinyurl.com/6nu474c
Here is coverage in the Washington Times.