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A Concealed Carry Permit Is a Few Clicks Away In Virginia

A shelf of guns in a gun shop.

A prospective concealed carry permit holder in Virginia doesn’t have to prove they know how to use a firearm. They can take a quick online course and drop off an application to the local circuit court. But now some lawmakers want to change that. 

About half the states across the country don't require in-person training to get a concealed carry permit. Applicants have to take a gun safety course, but they can do that either in person or online.

VPM’s Whittney Evans completed one of the online courses. It included ten minutes of video tutorials and a 12-question quiz.

Sen. John Bell (D-Loudoun) mentioned this particular website on the Senate floor last week when he introduced his bill to eliminate the online option.

“If you Google this, you’ll see they compete against each other for your business based on how quick and how easy they can make it,” Bell said. “For something as dangerous as a weapon, I don’t think we should have that standard.”

Sen.Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) voted against the bill. 

“It just increases costs and reduces the availability of important training that ought to be available to anybody,” Obenshain said as lawmakers debated the measure on the Senate floor.

 Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) argued there aren’t enough places in the state for people to get trained in person, especially in rural Virginia. 

 “This is going to require all the citizens across Virginia who desire to get their concealed carry permit to spend hours traveling, taking time off of work,” Chase said.

A spokesperson for the National Rifle Association said in a statement that “the bill will do nothing to improve public safety but it would make it harder for law-abiding Virginians to exercise their fundamental right to self-defense. It would impact women dealing with imminent and serious threats who may not have the luxury of time to go through a lengthy permitting process…”

Bell’s bill ultimately passed the full Senate on a party-line vote last week. But outside the Senate, there are plenty of staunch gun rights supporters who say they think online concealed carry permits are a bad idea.

“Who thought that up?” said Culpeper Sheriff Scott Jenkins last month when he spoke against the online permits in committee. That was shortly after he slammed several other gun control bills Democrats were considering in committee.

“Do we give driver’s licenses with no actual road test? Now that’s a bit ridiculous if you ask me,” he said. 

Marko Galbreath, a firearms instructor in Lynchburg, agreed. He’s taught firearms training for 10 years in Virginia. Last year, he said he trained close to 650 people.

“I’ve had people that have been carrying concealed for six and seven years,” he said. “They come to me to take the class and they say they’ve never shot their guns.”

Galbreath said that makes him uncomfortable.

“I personally don’t want somebody standing next to me in a grocery store with a firearm and they’ve never even shot that thing before, but if something goes sideways, they’re going to pull that gun out save the day, so they think” Galbreath said. “That’s just dangerous.”

Del. Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach) introduced a version of the billin the House, making this the only gun safety bill this session to be carried by both a Democrat and Republican.

Davis said, however, he may change the bill to allow online courses but require higher standards for their quality. His legislation has yet to be heard in committee.

Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.