If I Conceal Carry in Pennsylvania After May 16th, I’ll Be A Criminal

PA’s Attorney General recently announced Virginia has “insufficient” background checks, so it won’t recognize my CHP.

If I choose to conceal carry in Pennsylvania after May 16th, I could become a criminal. Why? Me and the thousands of other law-abiding Virginia concealed handgun permit (CHP) holders will be in violation of Pennsylvania law.

The Keystone State’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced on April 16th, 2018, that Virginia CHP holders are personae non gratae up there within 30 days of these changes going into effect. His reasoning is rooted in the belief that our state’s background check system is “insufficient.” After Shapiro’s review, Pennsylvania now recognizes 29 states’ agreements—excluding Virginia. Per the review, 21 other states “either have weaker standards or do not enter into such agreements.” Alternatively, 32 states recognize Pennsylvania’s CHP licenses.

“In order to ensure the standards of our Commonwealth are applied fairly and consistently – to both residents and visitors – we have just concluded an exhaustive, labor-intensive review of our concealed carry reciprocity agreements with every state in the nation,” Attorney General Shapiro said at a press conference today while surrounded by law enforcement at the Office of Attorney General in Harrisburg. “This review will not impact any Pennsylvania resident currently licensed to carry a concealed weapon in our state, nor does it change the qualification requirements. Its goal is to set clear standards and provide law enforcement with resources to enforce our existing firearms laws.”

Virginia law clearly enumerates those with criminal convictions are forbidden from obtaining CHP’s or purchasing firearms—pursuant Section 18.2-308.09 of Virginia law:

Persons Not Qualified to Obtain a Permit – Section 18.2-308.09

  1. An individual who is ineligible to possess a firearm pursuant to Section18.2-308.1:1, 18.2-308.1:2 or Section 18.2-308.1:3 or the substantially similar law of any other state or of the United States.
  2. An individual who was ineligible to possess a firearm pursuant to Section 18.2-308.1:1 and who was discharged from the custody of the Commissioner pursuant to Section 19.2-182.7 less than five years before the date of his application for a concealed handgun permit.
  3. An individual who was ineligible to possess a firearm pursuant to Section 18.2-308.1:2 and whose competency or capacity was restored pursuant to former Section 37.1-134.1 or Section 37.2-1012 less than five years before the date of his application for a concealed handgun permit.
  4. An individual who was ineligible to possess a firearm under Section 18.2-308.1:3 and who was released from commitment less than five years before the date of this application for a concealed handgun permit.
  5. An individual who is subject to a restraining order, or to a protective order and prohibited by Section 18.2-308.1:4 from purchasing or transporting a firearm.
  6. An individual who is prohibited by Section 18.2-308.2 from possessing or transporting a firearm, except that a permit may be obtained in accordance with subsection C of that section.
  7. An individual who has been convicted of two or more misdemeanors within the five-year period immediately preceding the application, if one of the misdemeanors was a Class 1 misdemeanor, but the judge shall have the discretion to deny a permit for two or more misdemeanors that are not Class 1. Traffic infractions or reckless driving shall not be considered for purposes of this disqualification.
  8. An individual who is addicted to, or is an unlawful user or distributor of, marijuana or any controlled substance.
  9. An individual who has been convicted of a violation of Section 18.2-266or a substantially similar local ordinance, or of public drunkenness, or of a substantially similar offense under the laws of any other state, the District of Columbia, the United States, or its territories within the three-year period immediately preceding the application, or who is a habitual drunkard as determined pursuant to Section 4.1-33.
  10. An alien other than an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States.
  11. An individual who has been discharged from the Armed Forces of the United States under dishonorable conditions.
  12. An individual who is a fugitive from justice.
  13. An individual who the court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, based on specific acts by the applicant, is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or negligently to endanger others. The sheriff, chief of police, or attorney for the Commonwealth may submit to the court a sworn written statement indicating that, in the opinion of such sheriff, chief of police, or attorney for the Commonwealth, based upon a disqualifying conviction or upon the specific acts set forth in the statement, the applicant is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or negligently to endanger others. The statement of the sheriff, chief of police, or the attorney for the Commonwealth shall be based upon personal knowledge of such individual or of a deputy sheriff, police officer, or assistant attorney for the Commonwealth of the specific acts, or upon a written statement made under oath before a notary public of a competent person having personal knowledge of the specific acts.
  14. An individual who has been convicted of any assault, assault and battery, sexual battery, discharging of a firearm in violation of Section18.2-280 or Section 18.2-286.1 or brandishing of a firearm in violation of Section 18.2-282 within the three-year period immediately preceding the application.
  15. An individual who has been convicted of stalking.
  16. An individual whose previous convictions or adjudications of delinquency were based on an offense which would have been at the time of conviction a felony if committed by an adult under the laws of any state, the District of Columbia, the United States or its territories. For purposes of this disqualifier, only convictions occurring within sixteen years following the later of the date of (i) the conviction or adjudication or (ii) release from any incarceration imposed upon such conviction or adjudication shall be deemed to be “previous convictions.”
  17. An individual who has a felony charge pending or a charge pending for an offense listed in 14 or 15.
  18. An individual who has received mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment in a residential setting within five years prior to the date of his application for a concealed handgun permit.
  19. An individual not otherwise ineligible pursuant to this section, who, within the three-year period immediately preceding the application for the permit, was found guilty of any criminal offense set forth in Article 1 (Section 18.2-247 et seq.) of Chapter 7 of this title or of a criminal offense of illegal possession or distribution of marijuana or any controlled substance, under the laws of any state, the District of Columbia, or the United States or its territories.
  20. An individual, not otherwise ineligible pursuant to this section, with respect to whom, within the three-year period immediately preceding the application, upon a charge of any criminal offense set forth in Article 1 (Section 18.2-247 et seq.) of Chapter 7 of this title or upon a charge of illegal possession or distribution of marijuana or any controlled substance under the laws of any state, the District of Columbia, or the United States or its territories, the trial court found that the facts of the case were sufficient for a finding of guilt and disposed of the case pursuant to Section 18.2-251 or the substantially similar law of any other state, the District of Columbia, or the United States or its territories.

Having gone through the process myself—while boasting no criminal record, of course—I’m confident Pennsylvania’s targeting of Virginia CHP holders is deliberate and not rooted in safety whatsoever.

Our concealed carry laws closely mirror that of Pennsylvania—what’s the issue? What does this do to deter criminal behavior except criminalizing law-abiding Virginia CHP holders? Instead of targeting existing law that’s easily enforceable, perhaps Mr. Shapiro could focus his sights on criminals in Pennsylvania—particularly those in Philadelphia and other crime-heavy epicenters—who actually perpetrate illegal gun crimes.

Let’s hope gun rights organizations will challenge this in the court of law.