BRISTOL, TN (WJHL)- Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s decision to not recognize concealed carry permits from 25 states including Tennessee, has gained federal attention.
Tuesday in Bristol, two of our local congressman spoke out, trying to pressure Herring to reverse that decision.
Starting next month, if you are a Tennessee concealed weapon permit holder, if you cross the state line in to Virginia, the permit is useless.
If you want to carry a gun it has to be exposed, which some say would create another set of problems.
U.S. Representative Phil Roe of Tennessee and U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia answered questions about this decision Tuesday.
“This is just affecting people like me, those of us who are legal, responsible,” Brad Baker who lives in Bristol, TN said.
Baker was one of dozens of people who showed up Tuesday to find out what their congressmen think about this controversial decision.
“Attorney General Herring must not have ever been on State Street in Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee or he’d know what kind of mess he’d created,” Griffith said.
Roe, who was carrying two guns himself, said Herring’s decision will lead to problems and confusion, especially on State Street where you can take a step and be in Virginia.
“It’s going to be difficult to navigate the laws and you could accidentally become a criminal by just crossing the street or turning your car around and that’s just plain wrong,” Griffith said.
“What this attorney general has done is created a nightmare for the police department on the Tennessee side and on the Virginia side, I don’t know how they’re going to do it,” Roe said.
Griffith said the way this decision was made was wrong.
“If he wanted to get a bill through the legislature saying we’re not going to recognize other states that’s one thing. But with a stroke of his pen claiming that he reinterpreted the law that’s been on the books for 14 years and other attorney generals never saw a problem with it and now all of a sudden one stroke of a pen on February 1st people of Tennessee and 24 other states won’t be able to carry their concealed weapon in Virginia that’s just wrong,” Griffith said.
He said the Virginia legislature will likely pass a bill to get the decision reversed but he said Virginia’s governor will likely veto it.
“We will get it straightened out eventually in Virginia but it’s probably going to be after the 2017 election,” Griffith said.
Between now and then Baker said he doesn’t think this change will keep anyone any safer.
“Those people who don’t play by the rules, what’s another law? They don’t care,” Baker said.
A class is now being offered where Tennesseans can get a Utah concealed weapon permit, a permit that is recognized by Virginia.
The congressmen said Tuesday that that is risky since Herring could easily ban those permits eventually as well.
Roe said we have a good system in Tennessee and Tennesseans shouldn’t have to get a permit from another state.
This decision takes effect on February first.