Gov. Northam

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam

Gov. Ralph Northam issued his first veto of the session Tuesday, rejecting a bill backed by Republicans that would grant concealed handgun permits to out-of-state residents if the Virginia State Police doesn’t review their applications within 90 days.

“This not only places an arbitrary and burdensome mandate on the Virginia Department of State Police, but would also undoubtedly result in ineligible nonresidents obtaining permits,” Northam said in a written statement.

“In order to protect public safety, it is critical that the Virginia Department of State Police be afforded the necessary time to review all available criminal history information and fully investigate each application.”

The bill, sponsored by Del. Breda Pogge, R-James City, cleared the House narrowly 50-49 in a second attempt at getting it through. The bill later cleared the Senate 21-19.

With both chambers closely divided, the legislation's backers are unlikely to muster the two-thirds vote they need in the House and Senate to override the veto.

Northam added that the proposal could lead the agency to prioritize non-resident applications over ones for state residents. The measure, he said, could also hamstring the agency, forcing it to use its limited staff and taxpayer dollars to expedite processing of nonresident requests to meet the requirement.

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mleonor@timesdispatch.com

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Twitter: @MelLeonor_

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