The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Local Delegate's Gun Bill One of Seven Vetoed

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

RICHMOND — A bill by a local delegate that would allow drivers to keep guns in locked automobile glove boxes was one of seven vetoed by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine late Monday.

Monday was the last day for Kaine to act on the 958 bills that won approval from both the Senate and House of Delegates.

Among the proposals was House Bill 1106, sponsored by Del. Clay Athey, R-Front Royal. The bill cleared the House of Delegates by a veto-proof 70-24 margin. The Senate vote, though, was much closer, 23-17 in favor of the bill.

If the same groups vote the same way during next week’s veto override session, the veto will stand.

“This measure runs contrary to existing state law regarding concealed weapon permits, allowing people who have not completed a criminal background check, and who are untrained with a handgun, to possess a firearm in a concealed manner within a locked compartment in their vehicles,” Kaine says in a statement released Monday.

Concerns raised by law enforcement, that the measure would make already dangerous traffic stops even more dangerous, are valid, the governor says.

“It presents a danger to our law enforcement officers, who risk their lives for Virginians on a daily basis while patrolling the Commonwealth’s roads and highways,” he says.

Athey wasn’t available for comment on Monday, but he had a very good reason, Del. Beverly Sherwood, R-Winchester, told her colleagues.

Sherwood took the floor of the House and announced “that gentleman from Warren and his wife are the parents of twins, a boy and a girl, each weighing 8 pounds-plus.”

During the session, though, Athey said that people who are likely to use a handgun for nefarious reasons are going to do so, no matter what the state’s law is.

“Someone who is going to commit a criminal act is going to commit a criminal act,” he said in a March interview. “Law-abiding citizens are not.”

Letting otherwise law-abiding people keep guns in their car is a safety issue, he said. People should be able to defend themselves on the road, just as they can in their homes. And drivers can already openly carry weapons in their cars.

“My wife is not someone who’s a gun aficionado. She has no interest in getting a concealed weapons permit,” he said at the time. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense” for the law to encourage people to “leave a loaded gun in an open car with children in there.”

Kaine also followed through on threats to veto legislation that transferred some gubernatorial appointment power from the Executive Mansion to the General Assembly.

In particular, he vetoed Senate Bill 304 and House Bill 673, identical measures which would have made regional appointments to the Commonwealth Transportation Board the purview of legislators.

At present, the governor appoints all 17 members of the board and has the power to recall them at will.

Kaine said in a statement that he’s not about to let the executive branch lose one of its major powers without getting something in return for future governors.

“Any shift in the balance of power should occur in conjunction with a broader review of issues including the merits of a two-term governor,” he says.

The House and Senate both convene today at 10 a.m.