Webert’s gun bill awaits McAuliffe’s signature

Del. Michael Webert

A controversial bipartisan bill combining elements of gun ownership rights and gun control is awaiting the signature of Gov. Terry McAuliffe after Del. Michael Webert, R-Marshall, helped lead its passage in the House of Delegates.

McAuliffe, a Democrat, has hailed the bill as a landmark compromise, despite heavy criticism from several organizations seeking more limits on the sale and possession of guns.

The bill repeals a decision announced by Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring in January that scrapped Virginia’s agreement with 25 states to recognize their concealed-carry handgun permits. Herring’s decision prohibited out of state visitors from legally carrying concealed handguns, even if they possessed valid permits from their home states.

In exchange for overriding Herring’s decision, Republican legislators and their pro-gun rights allies agreed to require those convicted of domestic violence offenses to surrender their guns to authorities or face a felony charge. The bill also has a provision requiring that Virginia State Police be present at every gun show to conduct voluntary background checks for unlicensed dealers.

McAuliffe, who campaigned as a staunch gun control advocate and initially supported Herring’s decision, has defended the legislation as the best, more realistic opportunity for preventing dangerous individuals from possessing guns.

Webert, who sponsored the legislation in the House, said lawmakers from both parties and both legislative chambers came together in producing the final draft of the legislation.

“I’m very happy that it made it through both houses and will be signed by the governor Friday,” Webert said.

Webert said five or six Democrats in the House and eight Democrats in the Senate voted for the bill.

Webert praised Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, for his role in passing the bill in the House of Delegates.

“It was a complete team effort,” Webert said. “Todd Gilbert had a lot to do with the bill moving forward and the negotiations in the language.”

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com