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Philip Van Cleave

Tuesday, June 1st, 2004

Philip Van Cleave, President of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), is the June recipient of the CCRKBA Gun Rights Defender of the Month Award.
 Van Cleave was hailed as a hard worker for gun rights by CCRKBA Public Affairs Director John Michael Snyder.
 “As one who works in Washington, D.C.,” Snyder said,  “I have the choice of living in one of three political jurisdictions, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. My primary reason for living in Virginia is that the right to keep and bear arms is more respected there, legally, than it is in either of the other two jurisdictions. In fact, you could say that, while Maryland is somewhat unfriendly towards private gun ownership and the District is generally hostile towards private gun ownership, Virginia is more or less friendly to such ownership. One of the primary reasons for this is the good work of people like Philip and the activity of such groups as VCDL, working diligently and pretty successfully to protect our cherished freedoms. He definitely is most deserving of this award.”
 Van Cleave worked night and day with the State Legislature and with the Governor’s office in Richmond to promote the VCDL legislative program. He is looking forward to working next year to correct problems with a measure, also enacted this year, regarding an airport terminal firearms ban.
 From a legislative standpoint, the current year has been a banner year for gun owners in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Among the beneficial changes to Virginia law, effective next month are:
* Full state preemption throughout the Commonwealth, per VCDL request, for all law-abiding gun owners, including those who do not have concealed carry permits.  No more city pistol purchase permits, park bans, and so forth.  Virginia now will have one set of statewide, consistent gun laws.
* No more county pistol permits or waiting periods, also per VCDL request.
* No one-gun-a-month requirement for concealed carry permit holders or curio and relic collectors.
* Expansion of concealed carry reciprocity with other states.
* Non-residents can apply for Virginia concealed carry permits.
* If there is a delay in issuing a permit, the applicant automatically will be given a 90-day temporary permit.
* Virginians will be able to buy long guns in any other state that allows such a purchase and gun owners from other states can buy long guns in Virginia.
* If an applicant is denied a concealed carry permit, the court must give the applicant the reason and what the applicant can do to appeal the denial.
 Van Cleave was born in 1952 in Kankakee, IL. He holds a Master’s degree (1978) and a Bachelor’s degree (1975) in Computer Science from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX. He received the Charles Babbage Award for Achievement in Computer Sciences from Trinity.
 He served as a volunteer firefighter in Bexar County, TX from 1971 to 1973, and also served as a reserve deputy sheriff in Bexar County, from 1973 to 1980. He moved to Virginia in 1980, and in 1984, he started his own software company, Virginia Systems, where he is still employed.
 He told Point Blank his interest in guns goes back to his childhood. When he moved to Virginia, he brought his service revolver with him. He became active in the right to keep and bear arms movement in Virginia in the mid-1990s, when Virginia was on the verge of enacting “shall issue” concealed carry permit legislation.
 After getting involved with VCDL, he was asked to serve on the Board of Directors, then to become vice president and then president, and he’s remained president for about three years. He said that, “being President of VCDL truly has been a crowning moment in my life.” VCDL had 300 members when Phil became Vice President. It now has about 2,000 members, and has 3,000 gun owners signed up on its alert system.
 One of the important things he has done as president is use the VA-ALERT system to broadcast a consolidated e-mail on items of interest to Virginia gun owners on a weekly basis. VA-ALERT is used by VCDL to rally pro-gun activists and supporters to write letters, send e-mails, make phone calls, and so forth, to elected officials to get the laws in Virginia made as friendly as possible to gun owners.