When Accomac County, Virginia Circuit Court Clerk Samuel H. Cooper Jr., an elected official, began offering gun owners in his county the option under recent but obscure legislation to apply for a Virginia concealed handgun permit (CHP) that included a photo, he did not think the move would be controversial. But when it comes to gun regulations, things can get complicated pretty quickly.
A number of gun owners applied for these photo-CHPs, but some of them and their associates in the gun rights blogosphere took a “deep dive” look at this new permit and didn’t like some of the things they found. One criticism of Clerk Cooper was that his office’s photo-CHP contained a statement to the effect that CHP holders must immediately notify police officers if they are carrying a concealed handgun.
Unlike a few states, Virginia is in the majority of states that do not require gun carriers to notify police officers that they are carrying concealed handguns. Moreover, in Virginia, persons 18 years of age or older do not need a permit to carry a concealed handgun in a vehicle or boat provided that the gun is secured i a container such as an unlocked but closed glove box or console.
Another objection gun owners made on gun blog and email discussion lists is that Cooper’s new photo-permit displayed the driver’s license number of the permit holder. The normally issued non-photo CHPs do not contain a driver’s license number.
OpenCarry.org co-founder John Pierce, a Virginia attorney specializing in “gun trusts” and restoration of civil and firearms rights, said that neither Virginia statutes nor the official state-wide uniform Virginia State Police CHP application require disclosure of a driver’s license number to apply for a CHP.
According to Pierce, “CHP applicants have no duty to have a Virginia driver’s license to apply for a CHP.”
Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) President Philip Van Cleave has no objections to Clerks of Court offering photo-CHPs, but added that “obviously Clerk Cooper should comply with Virginia law as to the format of the permit.” Clerk Cooper told the zoomdune.com by email that that he never had [a] request to omit publication of the driver’s license number on the non-photo CHP, but if he did, “I suppose we would not use it.”
But a curious issue lingers – does Clerk Cooper’s photo-CHP actually exempt the permit holder from carrying the statutorily required commonwealth photo-ID, US passport, or military ID when carrying concealed handguns pursuant to a permit issued in Virginia?
Clerk Cooper, apparently out of an abundance of caution, said that “it is advisable to carry additional ID.”