Concealed weapon fee discussed

Published 7:56 am Saturday, July 27, 2019

Following a citizen complaint in June the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors are looking into reducing the fee associated with obtaining a concealed weapons permit.

Currently, a concealed weapons fee cost $50.

According to the complaint from citizen Henry Hughes, $10 of the fee goes to the court system and $5 goes to the state police for a background check with the remainder going to the county. “I really don’t think our founding fathers wanted anyone to profit from a constitutional right such as the second amendment,” Hughes’ complaint read. “I don’t like the idea of paying $15 for a constitutional right but to tax it, which is what the extra $35 does no matter how you look at (it); it is not right. Members of the board need to do what is right and lower the fee to $15.”
Counties in the Commonwealth can charge up to $35 in additional fees for a permit, and Charlotte County has done such since the early 2000s.

According to County Administrator, Daniel Witt, the $35 charged by the County goes into the general fund and helps offset the county’s local contribution to the Sheriff’s Department operating budget.
Over a four-year period, the average annual revenue received by the county from the additional $35 is $7,132.
During the supervisor’s discussion on the reduction matter, Supervisor Kay Pierantoni made a motion to lower the concealed weapons fee to $15 stating that she felt that citizens should only be charged for what is needed by the court system and for the background check. “I think that it’s fair that we charge the actual fee only,” said Pierantoni.

Supervisor Donna Fore seconded the motion.

On a roll call vote, the motion did not carry because of a tie.

Supervisor Pierantoni, Fore, and Chairman Hamlett all voted yes to reducing the fee while Supervisors, Walker, Freeman and Shook voted no.

“So, this is one of those things that I really think that we need to discuss because I understand that perhaps this is money that goes to the sheriff’s department,” said Pierantoni. “So, I really question whether Mr. Freeman should be voting on this so I’ll make the motion again at another time.”

Supervisor Freeman who represents the Bacon/Saxe District is currently employed by the Charlotte County Sheriff Department and is on the November ballot seeking the Sherriff position.

Following a discussion, about just exactly where do the extra funds go, Supervisor Pierantoni asked again that Supervisor Freeman refrains from voting when the motion was brought up again. “I’m going to vote on it, and I am voting no,” said Freeman.

Following the meeting, Supervisor Pierantoni explained her reasoning for asking Supervisor Freeman not to vote. “The funds from the concealed permit don’t go specifically in the sheriff’s pocket. I didn’t mean to imply that,” she said. “But they are credited to the sheriff, and we look at that revenue that is generated in balancing budget requests from him.

Freeman explained his position to The Charlotte Gazette this week stating, “First, as a supporter of the Constitution and the Second Amendment I believe in the individual’s right to bear arms. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, we have certain regulations and fees that we as the Board of Supervisors have authority to vote on. The issue at hand is the concealed weapon fee,” he said. “The concealed weapons fees are divided as $5 to the Virginia Department of State Police, $10 to the Circuit Court and the remaining $35 goes into the Charlotte County General Fund. This was not a conflict for me to vote on as a member of the Sheriff’s Office because this was not funding directly related to the Sheriff’s Office, but to the Charlotte County General Fund (not the sheriff’s office). The only involvement by the Sheriff’s Office is to conduct a background check on the applicant and sign off on the application and this is done to ensure that the individual is eligible to possess a firearm.”

The board is set to place the issues back on its August agenda.

If the board chooses to reduce the fee, they will need to find funds elsewhere since this has been budgeted as revenue for FY2020.