Virginia legislators seem supercharged now that the state is showing signs of a permanent swing to liberal status, but that hasn’t helped them implement new gun control laws. Although the majority of United States residents agree that firearms should only be purchases pending a background check, new laws have been slow to come. Only a month after a huge gun rights rally in Virginia, lawmakers have advanced a number of new bills.
Eight gun control bills were endorsed by Democratic Governor Ralph Northam before five were passed in the General Assembly. All Northam has to do is sign them into law.
One of the approved measures is the oft-mentioned “red flag” law that will allow authorities to seize firearms from individuals who are designated a high risk. For example, if you threaten your own wellbeing or someone else’s, then the police can take your guns in an effort to clamp down on violent crime.
One measure will also allow municipal jurisdictions to ban firearms in public places — much like cigarettes are banned in restaurants. Another measure puts rules for reporting lost or stolen firearms into place. Another measure drafts restrictions for having loaded firearms in the presence of a minor when they are left unsecured.
A measure requiring universal background checks for new buyers has yet to pass through the General Assembly.
A separate measure banning assault weapons failed to pass, even with a majority of Democrats controlling government offices. The attempt was met with fierce criticism from gun rights advocates, who held a massive rally in Richmond only last month. The attendees made a firm declaration of their support for the Second Amendment. The debate has also led to many jurisdictions to declare themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries.”
These local governments made a firm commitment to upholding their residents’ right to bear arms. They cast the new laws as ones that violate Second Amendment rights. Leaders said they would not enforce any new state laws that they believe infringe upon those rights.
President Kris Brown of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said, “This is a historic day for our Commonwealth, as the General Assembly has passed five common-sense gun violence prevention laws.”
New gun laws are only a small part of the new legislation promised by Virginia Democrats. They also want to expand protection for LGBTQ residents by ratifying a new Equal Rights Amendment. In addition, Democrats are expected to reverse restrictive abortion laws put into place by the Republican leaders who last held office.