Virginia Takes Major Gun Control Step05:39
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Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (C) speaks during a news conference in front of the Arlington County courthouse to announce that couples can begin to marry immediately in Arlington, Virginia, October 6, 2014. Yesterday, Herring announced that Virginia will no longer recognize out-of-state handgun permits. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (C) speaks during a news conference in front of the Arlington County courthouse to announce that couples can begin to marry immediately in Arlington, Virginia, October 6, 2014. Yesterday, Herring announced that Virginia will no longer recognize out-of-state handgun permits. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
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Virginia's attorney general is taking a major gun control step in his state.

Attorney General Mark Herring - a Democrat - said yesterday that beginning next year Virginia will no longer recognize out-of-state handgun permits that were granted in 25 other states. That means that as of February 1, 2016, more than six million people who could legally carry concealed handguns into Virginia today will not be able to do that.

"There are reasons why these laws are in place," Herring told Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson. "We're gonna enforce the laws as strictly as we can, that are on the books, but we could do a lot more."

"I certainly don't want to wait for a tragedy to occur before taking action," Herring said.

Interview Highlights

On the reasoning behind this decision

"Carrying a concealed handgun is a significant responsibility and Virginia, like a lot of states, recognizes that only those that have had some [process to prove a level of competency and responsibility should be able to get a concealed handgun permit."

"Virginia law currently recognizes 30 other states' permits and allowed them to conceal handguns when they're in Virginia. What we did was take a look at those and saw that 25 of those 30 states actually have lower safety standards than we have in Virginia. We want to make sure that Virginia's safety standards apply to everyone, and we shouldn't hold non-residents to lower standards when they come to Virginia."

On why Virginia should be doing more - and what the state could do

"Here in Virginia, this is the location where the worst massacre by a single gunman in U.S. history happened. 32 people were killed at Virginia Tech in 2007. Just a couple months ago, there were two journalists killed while they were on the air. So, we can do more. We could start with universal background checks. That would be a big help. We also should be doing more in the area of domestic violence. There's often a connection between gun violence and domestic violence."

"There's more work we can do, but that requires legislative action, and until that's done, I'm gonna continue to enforce the laws as strictly as I can."

Guest

  • Mark Herring, attorney general for the state of Virginia. He tweets @AGMarkHerring.

This segment aired on December 23, 2015.

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