Episode One: How this Happened
On December 22, 2015, mere days before Christmas, while the public at large focused on family and frivolity, Virginia’s Attorney General issued a press release and held a sparsely attended press conference (from what I can tell this was by design) to announce that the Superintendent of the Virginia State Police had decided to no longer honor out of state Concealed Carry Weapon permits from 25 out of 30 states starting February 1, 2016.
Despite the public’s Christmas slumber, the outcry was deafening. Calls for recall or impeachment abounded. But I wondered why we focused on just Herring as Colonel W. Steven Flaherty was the one who actually made this decision. As it was apparent to me that Herring, in his attempt at personal aggrandizement, engaged in a blanket waiver of attorney-client privilege, I faxed a FOIA request to the Virginia State Police on December 23, 2015. Their fax machine was broken…
Joyfully, on the twelfth day of Christmas I was blessed with documents. Complete or not, I can now explain how Herring’s gift came about.
The early days of the Herring administration
Herring took office in January 2014 and promptly abdicated his responsibility to defend the Constitution of Virginia, and in fact advocated against his client. Democrats had not held the Virginia AG’s office since January 1994 and this was an opportunity to advance the liberal social agenda through the AG’s office for the first time in two decades.
In early 2014, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, through their General Counsel, Kelly Ward, made contact with Herring’s office in an attempt to limit the scope of CCW reciprocity in the Commonwealth. Ultimately she met at least twice with Lt. Col. Robert G. Kemmler of the Virginia State Police for this purpose and on July 24, 2014 she sent a 27 page comparison chart of the CCW requirements for the 30 states where Virginia currently grants reciprocity.
VSP request for guidance
This chart, already in the possession of Herring’s office also sat with the Virginia State Police. On October 10, 2014, a full year before the December 22 pronouncement, the list was sent from the VSP to Herring’s office with a request for advice as seen below.
In context of surrounding emails it is apparent the person tasked with requesting the advice did so at the behest of a superior. Although that superior is likely Lt. Col. Kemmler, it could have been a couple of other people at the VSP.
It is apparent there are regular meetings between representatives of the VSP and Herring’s office regarding a variety of issues. We do not know what was discussed and when at these meetings.
The long silence
For the first half of 2015, Herring’s office did little to nothing on this issue with the VSP. The VSP appeared unconcerned after making the October 2014 request about the timing of any decision. During this time frame, Lori Hanky Haas, Virginia State Director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, began communicating with the VSP about this issue.
More about this time frame as well as the reason for delay in Episode Two.
Herring’s office gets to work
Beginning in June 2015 Herring’s office begins a letter campaign to the Attorneys General of the other states seeking clarification of each states’ gun laws. By September, Herring’s office is sufficiently satisfied with the information received so it issues its first formal opinion to the VSP. The record goes very quiet for a couple of months until on December 1, 2015 Herring’s office issued a supplemental memorandum. A few discussions were held between Herring’s office and the VSP, and then the press conference occured on December 22, 2015.
There are two points to be made here
1. This entire act was prompted by a liberal special interest group, and
2. As will be seen in our forthcoming Episode Two, this was almost stopped. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence found an unlikely accomplice to help Herring achieve his goals.
UPDATE: Read Episode Two here.