Virginia will no longer recognize concealed handgun permits from 25 other states with less stringent gun permit laws starting next February, the state's Attorney General Mark Herring says.
The new regulations mean that "more than 6.3 million people who could legally carry concealed handguns into Virginia today will lose the privilege when the change takes effect next year," The Washington Post reports.
Herring, who is a Democrat, says the state will continue to recognize permits from Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and West Virginia. Visitors from other states will need to obtain a nonresident permit to carry a concealed weapon.
These are some of the disqualifiers and safeguards mentioned in Herring's statement that are meant to rule out "potentially dangerous individuals": anyone who has been ordered to receive outpatient mental health treatment, or has been convicted of stalking or assault, or has been convicted of a felony, or is addicted to a controlled substance.
The Post spoke with Chelsea Parsons, vice president of guns and crime policy at the liberal Center for American Progress, who says Virginia's new policy is representative of "where the gun violence prevention movement is going." Here's more from Parsons:
"In much the same way President Obama said I'm not going to wait for Congress anymore, the same can be said for leaders at the state level to really use their authority to take strong meaningful steps on this issue."
The decision came under fire immediately from Republicans. The chairman of the Virginia Republican Party John Whitbeck said Herring's announcement "is further proof that Democrats in Virginia have declared war on the Second Amendment." Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz criticized the decision in a statement, saying: "You don't reduce violent crime by taking away the right of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and their families."
A spokesman for the National Rifle Association told The Associated Press that "his organization is unaware of any state ever implementing a change of this magnitude" to concealed handgun reciprocity agreements.