Washington, D.C., January 24, 2020 - Today, the Virginia House of Delegates Public Safety Committee passed seven common-sense gun violence prevention bills out of the Public Safety Committee for consideration by the full House of Delegates. This action follows a week of heightened scrutiny of Virginia’s gun safety laws and proposed legislation, after a protest on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day that included hateful rhetoric and participation of white supremacist, militia and out-of-state groups that do not represent the views of Virginia gun owners or voters. Today, the Virginia House of Delegates Public Safety Committee showed that they will not be deterred. Brady applauds their actions and is proud of their work to make the Commonwealth safer for all of its citizens.
Brady President Kris Brown shared:
“This week, the gun violence prevention movement watched as efforts by the duly elected legislature in Virginia to enact common-sense policies with bipartisan support were characterized as tyrannical and unconstitutional by a vocal, fringe minority. However, we were not and will not be intimidated and stand firm in the knowledge that the policies addressed and passed by Virginia lawmakers this year are supported by a bipartisan majority of Virginians and include the vital input and voices of gun owners.
Over the past weeks, the Virginia Senate has passed four bills, SB 69, SB 35, SB 70, and SB 240. Today, the Virginia House of Delegates Public Safety Committee passed seven bills that include policies such as expanding background checks and ensuring that individuals who are deemed a risk to themselves or others do not possess weapons. This is the way our democracy is supposed to work. Brady is proud that Virginia voters elected a pro-gun violence prevention majority in 2019 and that this legislature is hard at work passing proven and constitutional laws on behalf of the Commonwealth.
As a Virginian, I am proud that we are one step closer to becoming a state that leads the nation in solutions to end the epidemic of gun violence.”
Brady Vice President of Policy, Christian Heyne, submitted official testimony in support of today’s bills. The House of Delegates Public Safety Committee passed:
HB 2 – This bill would enact a universal background check bill requirement for all private sales and transfers, with limited exceptions.
HB 9 – 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 – This bill would allow local governments to have authority to enact gun laws in their localities, thus overturning 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 – 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 812 – 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.
HB 1004 – 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 – This bill would update Virginia's child access prevention law to protect more children and teens through the Commonwealth, creating meaningful deterrents to ensure that children are not in the position to access unsecured firearms. It would raise the age of children that are protected under this law from the age of 14 to 18.
Last week, the Virginia Senate passed four, common-sense bills that will ensure that individuals who are a danger to themselves or others do not possess weapons as well allowing local governments to regulate firearm safety within their jurisdictions. Brady Senior Manager of State Policy Kelsey Rogers submitted official testimony in support of these bills in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bills that passed the Senate are:
SB 35 – Repeals existing state law that preempts local governments from “adopt[ing] or enforce[ing] any resolution . . . governing the purchase, possession, transfer, ownership, carrying, storage or transportation of firearms.” This existing law stops local governments from enacting legally sound and common-sense regulations of weapons in their jurisdictions. Repeal of this law would empower local governments to create and implement solutions that best address the needs of their constituents and communities.
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.
SB 240 – Institutes an extreme risk law, sometimes known as “red flag laws,” that provides a way for the courts and law enforcement to temporarily remove a firearm from individuals who are a proven risk to themselves or others. Extreme risk laws have been proven effective, upheld as constitutional and are a critical tool to help ensure that temporary crises do not become permanent tragedies.
Brady urges the full House of Delegates to pass these laws and for the full Virginia State Legislature to send these policies to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam for signature.
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.