Washington, D.C., February 27, 2020 - Today, the Virginia General Assembly passed the last of the seven remaining policies from the ‘Governor’s Package,’ clearing the last hurdle for five of these bills to go to the Governor for his signature. Brady applauds this substantive step enacting the will of the people and making Virginia safer. The General Assembly will address the remaining two policies, expanding background checks and limiting the cadence of handgun purchases to one a month, in conference where representatives from the House of Delegates and Senate will agree upon the final policies. They must pass these policies.
Brady President Kris Brown shared:
“This is a historic day for our Commonwealth, as the General Assembly has passed five common-sense gun violence prevention laws. These will now be signed by the leaders of both chambers and will be sent to the Governor for his signature. These laws - creating an extreme risk law to ensure that individuals who are a threat to themselves or others do not possess weapons, extending firearm prohibitions for those under protective orders, requiring citizens to report lost or stolen weapons, returning authority to regulate public safety to local governments, and updating protections to keep unsecured weapons out of the hands of children and teens - will make our Commonwealth safer, as well as states up and down the 95 corridor.
These are five of the eight policies in the ‘Governor’s Package.’ The General Assembly still has an opportunity to pass the remaining two bills, expanding and strengthening background checks and limiting the cadence of handgun purchases to one gun a month.
It is imperative that the General Assembly pass these last two bills. Gun violence prevention bills work in concert with one another, strengthening and supporting protections to help keep weapons out of potentially dangerous situations and out of the hands of those who should not have them. Background checks are essential to this process. Similarly, Virginia’s past law limiting the purchase of handguns to one a month was shown to be effective and to cut down on weapons trafficked out of the state.
We cannot give up on this effort. We need these last two bills. We applaud the General Assembly for their progress up to this point and we urge them to finish this work and pass these two bills.”
Following today’s vote, the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate have passed HB 9, HB 421, HB 674, HB 1004, HB 1083, SB 35, SB 240, and SB 479. These bills codify five common-sense policies and will go to the Governor for reconciliation and signature.
Two policies, extending background checks and limiting the cadence of handgun purchases to one a month, will be sent to conference for members of both chambers to deliberate and agree upon final language. The bills on each of these policies to be discussed are: HB 2 and HB 812, and SB 69 and SB 70.
About the Bills Referred by Both Chambers to Conference:
HB 2 – Extended Background Checks: This bill would expand background check requirements for private sales with limited exceptions.
HB 812 – One Handgun A Month Law: This bill would limit the cadence of handgun purchases to one per month, to help stem the flow of guns being diverted to the criminal market via trafficking and straw purchasing, as Virginia has long been a top “exporter” of crime guns to other states with strict gun laws.
SB 69 – Limits the cadence at which an individual can purchase a handgun to one weapon per month, a policy that was previously enacted in the Commonwealth from 1993 to 2012 and was associated with a dramatic reduction in firearms from Virginia being recovered at crime scenes in other states.
SB 70 – Expands and strengthens background checks across the Commonwealth, closing loopholes that allow prohibited purchasers to obtain weapons.
About the Five Bills Passed in the Senate:
HB 9 – Lost & Stolen Firearms: This bill would require an individual to report the loss or theft of a legally owned firearm within 24 hours of discovering the loss or theft to a local law enforcement agency or state police. This will help to prevent firearms from being stolen and diverted to the criminal gun market. Lost and stolen guns are notoriously difficult to trace and this bill will help ensure law enforcement can do their jobs effectively.
HB 421 – Local Authority: This bill would allow local governments to have more authority to enact gun laws in their localities, thus overturning portions of the current "preemption" law on the books in the Commonwealth. Currently, Virginia law handcuffs local governments, preventing them from taking action to reduce violence in their jurisdictions. It is critical that local governments have the authority to adopt gun violence prevention measures that are tailored to address the gun violence closest to home and have the ability to direct local resources to effectively implementing those solutions.
HB 674 – Extreme Risk Laws: This bill would create an extreme risk protective order (broadly known as an "extreme risk law") in the state of Virginia. This bill would enable law enforcement to file a civil petition before a court in Virginia to temporarily remove firearms from an individual in crisis when there is presented evidence before the court that the individual is at risk of harming themselves or others. These laws have been implemented in 17 states and Washington D.C. and evidence suggests they can prevent suicides, interpersonal violence, and even mass shootings. These laws follow a civil, not criminal, process.
HB 1004 – Protective Order Expansion: This bill would extend and update Virginia's law regarding firearms prohibition for those under permanent protective orders, helping to protect those in critical periods of danger by ensuring that all individuals under a permanent protective order do not possess a weapon.
HB 1083 – Child Access Prevention: This bill would update Virginia's child access prevention law to protect children and teens through the Commonwealth by creating stronger deterrents to ensure that children are not in the position access unsecured firearms.
Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.