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Clerk’s handgun permit policy challenged

The clerk of the Petersburg Circuit Court is being taken to court over her procedures for renewing concealed weapons permits.

A member of a Virginia gun rights group has asked the Supreme Court of Virginia to order clerk Shalva J. Braxton to process pistol permit renewals by mail.

Michael McNeill of Petersburg filed a petition for a writ of mandamus May 16 asking the high court to compel Braxton to accept and process his handgun permit application.

The sticking point is the state requirement for a police background check on renewal applicants. Braxton’s office allegedly required McNeill to go in person to the city police department to get the background check and fingerprints.

A Petersburg ordinance appears to require applicants to be fingerprinted, without any exception for those seeking renewal of an existing permit.

McNeill contends Virginia law allows renewal applicants to apply by mail and requires the clerk to do the legwork for getting a criminal background check from the police department. The Petersburg ordinance should be considered void, McNeill argued.

McNeill is a member of the Virginia Citizens Defense League which advocates for citizens’ rights to keep and bear arms. He is represented by Fairfax lawyer Richard E. Gardiner.

A request for comment from Braxton was not immediately returned.

-Peter Vieth

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