Washington, D.C., July 9, 2019 — Nearly 40 days after 12 people were shot and killed in Virginia Beach, VA, the Virginia General Assembly will come together today in a special session to address the epidemic of gun violence. The gun violence prevention group Brady urged the General Assembly to bring legislation proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam, including expanded background checks on gun sales, a reinstatement of the limit of one handgun purchase per month, and an extreme risk law, to the floor of the State Senate and House of Delegates for a full vote.
Brady president and Virginia resident Kris Brown, who will join several buses full of Brady supporters and gun violence prevention advocates in Richmond today, stated,
“A month after one of the deadliest shootings in Virginia history, and after years of inaction on gun violence, we finally have an opportunity to set things right. The Virginia General Assembly has a chance today to take action against gun violence and to set an example for the rest of the country. We know all too well the corrosive influence that the gun lobby has had on our elected officials over the years, but Leader Norment and Speaker Cox can prove today that they are willing to stand up and put their constituents first. However, should they choose to turn their backs on the victims of Virginia Beach and the countless Virginians who fall victim to gun violence every day, they can rest assured that we will take to the polls in force this November, and we will remember whose side they chose.”
On June 4th, just days after the Virginia Beach mass shooting, Gov. Northam announced that he would call the General Assembly back to Richmond for a special session to discuss gun violence prevention legislation. The governor has proposed a package of eight bills, including:
- Requiring background checks on all firearms sales and transactions;
- Banning assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, bump stocks; and silencers;
- Reinstating Virginia’s previous law allowing only one handgun purchase within a 30-day period;
- Requiring that lost and stolen firearms be reported to law enforcement within 24 hours;
- Creating an Extreme Risk Protective Order, allowing law enforcement and the courts to temporarily separate a person from firearms if the person exhibits dangerous behavior that presents an immediate threat to self or others;
- Prohibiting all individuals subject to final protective orders from possessing firearms, expanding current Virginia law which prohibits individuals subject to final protective orders of family abuse;
- Enhancing the punishment for allowing access to a loaded, unsecured firearm by a child from a Class 3 Misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony, and raising the age of the child from 14 to 18; and
- Enabling localities to enact any firearms ordinances that are stricter than state law, including regulating firearms in municipal buildings, libraries and at permitted events.
More background on the issues under consideration today can be found here.
Leading up to the special session, Brady released polling of four key districts - HD 66 (represented by Speaker Cox), SD 3 (represented by Leader Norment), and SD 7 and 8 (encompassing Virginia Beach) - showing that Virginians want to see common-sense gun safety laws enacted in the Commonwealth. The full results can be found here, but highlights included:
- 83 percent of respondents - including 73 percent of Donald Trump voters - support an extreme risk law allowing family members or law enforcement to ask a judge to temporarily suspend a person’s access to guns if they have evidence that the person poses a significant threat to themselves or others;
- 62 percent - including 61 percent of respondents in Sen. Norment’s district - support banning the sale of military style semi-automatic assault weapons;
- 63 percent - including more than half of gun owners - support banning high-capacity magazines that hold over 10 bullets, such as the ones used in the Virginia Beach shooting;
- 67 percent - including 63 percent of respondents in Speaker Cox’s district - support allowing local jurisdictions to ban guns from public buildings and events and enforce that ban by detecting guns and restricting entry.
This May, Brady endorsed Sen. Dick Saslaw (SD-35), Dan Helmer (HD-40), and Sheila Bynum-Coleman (HD-66) in this November’s Virginia elections. Further endorsements, which will be heavily influenced by the special session, will be announced in the near future.
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.