Virginia legislator openly carries her gun on state Senate floor

Virginia legislator openly carries her gun on state Senate floor
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A freshman legislator has started openly carrying her .38 revolver on the floor of the Virginia state Senate.

State Sen. Amanda Chase (R) told The Washington Post that she has begun wearing her revolver visibly strapped to her hip after a colleague was confronted by a group of protesters.

“I’ve had people get in my face. I’ve had people come up and try to touch me inappropriately,” Chase said, adding that her gun acts as a “deterrent.”

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The Virginia state Capitol, in Richmond, has lax gun rules and gun-toting visitors are allowed in if they have a concealed-carry permit, the Post reported.

Chase, who owns a small financial services business, told the newspaper that she usually carries her gun concealed because she doesn’t want to “raise alarm for other people.”

However, she decided to openly display her weapon after state Sen. Richard H. Black said he was confronted by immigration activists on Monday over his bill to ban sanctuary cities.

Chase said Black’s encounter “concerned” her and she began openly carrying her revolver on Tuesday, as first noted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“I’ve had threats. I’ve had stalkers since I’ve been in the General Assembly,” Chase said. “I am going to continue to represent the issues that are important to my constituents, and I’m not going to be intimidated by people who would try to physically harm me.”

The conservative legislator has opposed federal efforts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) this year, the Post reported.

She said openly carrying her gun has given her more confidence.

“It empowers women,” she said. “I jokingly call it my ERA.”

Chase told the newspaper that she’s had positive reception and has been called a “badass.”

Critics, however, say it isn’t necessary for Chase to carry a gun on the Virginia Senate floor.

“I think the Capitol Police are well trained and do a fabulous job,” said Brian Moran, Virginia’s secretary of public safety and homeland security. “And if any member has concerns, they really should express those to Capitol Police so they feel secure while they’re doing the people’s business in the people’s house.”

State Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D) said her nickname should be “Senator Annie Oakley Chase.”

“If she gets in an argument, what’s she gonna [do], pull out a gun and shoot them?” he said. “I just think it’s absurd.”

Virginia has experienced issues with legislators carrying weapons in the Capitol.

Republican state Sen. John Cosgrove accidentally left a loaded gun in a committee room in 2017, the Times-Dispatch reported.

Former Del. John Reid (R) accidentally fired his pistol in his office, striking the bulletproof vest ganging on the back of his closed office door in 2006.