Lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Virginia state legislature last week greenlighted a raft of gun control measures, sending them to the desk of Gov. Ralph Northam.
The five bills headed to the Governor include proposals to establish a “red flag” gun seizure mechanism, allow cities and counties to pass their own tough local gun control ordinances, penalize gun owners who have their firearms lost or stolen and forget to report them, mandatory gun lock laws, and removing the ability of local school boards to allow lawful guns on campus.
“A historic step forward—and even more to come,” said Northam, a Democrat, and advocate of more gun restriction, on social media.
Two other measures, which are still in a conference committee before heading to the Governor’s mansion, would ration handguns to one purchase per buyer per month while another requires gun transfers between private parties to first go through a background check.
In each case, the bills passed on largely party-line votes in Richmond after previous versions repeatedly tanked in past sessions while the state Senate was under nominal Republican control. National groups with deep pockets, financed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, spent millions over the past decade in an effort to switch the polarity of the chamber, managing to turn it blue last November.
The bills headed to Northam include:
HB 9: requires lost or stolen firearms are reported to the police within 24 hours of discovery. Gun owners who fail to do this could face a civil penalty of up to $250
HB 421: eliminates the state’s preemption laws when it comes to local communities who want to ban guns in various public places or otherwise regulate their use. Pro-gun groups worry this would create a confusing patchwork of bans across the Commonwealth’s 143 counties and independent cities. It would also allow localities to bring lawsuits against firearms manufacturers.
HB 674: establishes Extreme Risk Protection Orders, the sort of “red flag” law adopted in other states that allows police to request guns be removed from individuals thought to be a danger. The order, which could last for as much as 180 days, would require the individual to petition the court to have their gun rights restored.
HB 1080: would restrict a school board from allowing an individual to carry otherwise legal guns on campus.
HB 1083: restricts access to firearms to youth under 18, with the punishment being up to a Class 6 felony under Virginia law.
Those still in conference committee include:
HB 2: expands background checks to include firearm transfers between individuals. As noted by the NRA, “Under this extreme legislation, even lending a brother your rifle for a deer hunt or letting your daughter borrow a handgun for self-defense could land otherwise law-abiding Virginians with a felony conviction and up to 5 years in jail.”
House Bill 812: restricts handgun purchases to one a month. Violators could face as much as 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
The Virginia legislative session began on January 8. Enacted legislation from this session, in general, would take effect July 1.