VA Senate Bill 64 (prefiled)

Okay, I’ve seen a lot of things popping up in my Facebook feed about VA Senate Bill 64 and its effects on firearms and self-defense training. Here’s my take (and please keep in mind that I’m not a lawyer):

This bill affects VA Code 18.2-433.2, which currently states:

A person shall be guilty of unlawful paramilitary activity, punishable as a Class 5 felony if he:

1. Teaches or demonstrates to any other person the use, application, or making of any firearm, explosive or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury or death to persons, knowing or having reason to know or intending that such training will be employed for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder; or

2. Assembles with one or more persons for the purpose of training with, practicing with, or being instructed in the use of any firearm, explosive or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury or death to persons, intending to employ such training for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder.

For those who don’t know, this section of VA Code has existed since 1987, so it’s not like this is a new thing. The proposed changes state:

A person shall be is guilty of unlawful paramilitary activity, punishable as a Class 5 felony if he:

1. Teaches or demonstrates to any other person the use, application, or making of any firearm, explosive, or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury or death to persons, knowing or having reason to know or intending that such training will be employed for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder; or

2. Assembles with one or more persons for the purpose of training with, practicing with, or being instructed in the use of any firearm, explosive, or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury or death to persons, intending to employ such training for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder; or

3. Assembles with one or more persons with the intent of intimidating any person or group of persons by drilling, parading, or marching with any firearm, any explosive or incendiary device, or any components or combination thereof.

So really, the sponsor is just adding the last paragraph. I can only guess at his intent, but I have to assume that this is a response to Charlottesville and the guys that decided they were going to go full kit in the middle of a town.

As far as its effects on firearms training, you should probably read 18.2-433.3:

Nothing contained in this article shall be construed to apply to:

1. Any act of a law-enforcement officer performed in the otherwise lawful performance of the officer’s official duties;

2. Any activity, undertaken without knowledge of or intent to cause or further a civil disorder, which is intended to teach or practice self-defense or self-defense techniques such as karate clubs or self-defense clinics, and similar lawful activity;

3. Any facility, program or lawful activity related to firearms instruction and training intended to teach the safe handling and use of firearms; or

4. Any other lawful sports or activities related to the individual recreational use or possession of firearms, including but not limited to hunting activities, target shooting, self-defense and firearms collection.

Notwithstanding any language contained herein, no activity of any individual, group, organization or other entity engaged in the lawful display or use of firearms or other weapons or facsimiles thereof shall be deemed to be in violation of this statute.

Now, while I think there are probably some First Amendment issues, even with the original law, this isn’t going to stop you from training on firearms. If your entire social media presence is loaded up with references to the boogaloo, big igloo, and every other stupid reference that is floating around on the internet today, then yeah, I could see how an over-zealous prosecutor might try to make a case, hence the First Amendment issues. But if your stated goal is self-defense or defense of others, both of which are lawful activities, then it’s going to be very hard to make anything stick.

The bans that have been drafted are far more dangerous, and I may write something up about that later. Hope this has been helpful, and if you’d like to read the full text of that section, go here.

3 thoughts on “VA Senate Bill 64 (prefiled)

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