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Brady Celebrates Passage of Ban on Assault Weapons in Virginia House of Delegates

Washington, D.C., February 11, 2020 - Today, Brady celebrates the passage of HB 961 in the Virginia House of Delegates. HB 961 will ban assault weapons, large-capacity magazines, bump stocks, and silencers in the Commonwealth.

Brady President Kris Brown shared:

“Today’s vote in the House of Delegates is a heartening embrace of common-sense policies that make our Commonwealth safer. Assault weapons are uniquely lethal and designed to inflict maximum harm and fatalities. They have no place in our communities and their presence makes our schools and our streets less safe. Large capacity magazines and silencers endanger citizens and law enforcement due to their unique ability to allow a shooter to continue firing rapidly and without easy detection. Last year’s mass shooting in Virginia Beach was prolonged and made more deadly due to the shooter’s use of both large-capacity magazines and silencers.

If the bill passed by the House of Delegates today were law, those accessories would have been illegal. This is a sensible action. We applaud the Delegates for passing this bill and look to the Virginia Senate to ensure that this bill becomes law.”

Seven states and the District of Columbia have already enacted similar bans on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.

Data and experience demonstrate that these bans worked. Under a federal ban on high-capacity magazines, Virginia police collected progressively fewer large-capacity magazines, with the number and percent increasing when the ban was allowed to expire. Bans, such as the policies included in HB961, have been shown to reduce mass shootings when enacted at both the state and federal level.

Brady Vice President of Policy Christian Heyne testified in support of the ban at last week’s House Public Safety Committee hearing, stating:

"These weapons -- assault-style semi-automatic rifles and pistols, along with large capacity magazines -- have no place on our streets. No civilian should have to ever intervene to prevent their fellow human beings from being massacred while out for a movie, dancing, checking out a favorite band, worshipping, getting an education, or just walking down a crowded street."

Brown concluded:

“This is a long overdue step for Virginia. As a Virginia voter who went to the polls in November after last year’s special session failed to pass any gun safety provisions, this is what we wanted. We voted in a gun violence prevention majority to make our communities safer. This is democracy in action.”

The Seven Bills Already Passed in the House of Delegates:

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 deterrents to ensure that children are not in the position access unsecured firearms. It would raise the age of children that are protected under this law from the age of 14 to 18.

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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.


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