Va. House Democrats’ policy on guns in the Capitol may or may not include ‘blanket prohibition’

An attendee at a committee hearing in the General Assembly wears a gun in his belt. State lawmakers allow only people with concealed carry permits to bring guns into the Capitol. Guns are banned in other state office buildings. (Photo by Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

The new Democratic majority in the Virginia House of Delegates will pursue a new policy on guns in the Capitol that may or may not include a “blanket prohibition.”

Democratic leaders released a proposed rules package Thursday morning that includes a new section dealing with firearms in House-controlled areas of the Capitol and General Assembly office building. For years, anyone with a concealed carry permit has been able to carry guns at the Capitol.

A resolution that Democrats will introduce on the floor Thursday says that the House Committee on Rules will adopt a formal gun policy affecting members, staff and visitors.

“The Committee may amend the policy, which may or may not include a blanket prohibition, from time to time as appropriate,” the resolution states. “Copies of the approved policy and any changes or amendments thereof will be provided to every member, full and part-time employee, page, and intern of the Virginia House of Delegates and be posted for the members of the public.”

Rules adopted by the Democratic-controlled state Senate Wednesday did not include any new firearm provisions. Because many General Assembly spaces are shared between delegates and senators, it remains unclear how and where the policy will be applied.

The new rules come as lawmakers and law enforcement are preparing for large crowds of gun-rights supporters and possible out-of-state militia groups that are planning to come to Richmond on Jan. 20 to rally in opposition to new gun-control laws Democrats want to pass. Several lawmakers also regularly carry firearms inside the Capitol, though because they are generally concealed, it’s hard to know how many do so.