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“We Are Undeterred:” Brady Expresses Disappointment in Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee Decision to Delay Action on Assault Weapons Ban Until 2021

Washington, D.C., February 17, 2020 - Today, Brady re-commits to the importance of passing a ban on assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines in Virginia, following the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote to defer a vote on HB 961, which would enact those policies, until 2021. Brady reminds the Committee that these policies are supported by a majority of Virginians and that voters made gun policy their top priority in the November 2019 election.

Brady President Kris Brown shared:

“While we are disappointed in today’s vote, we are undeterred. Assault-style weapons, large-capacity magazines, and other accessories designed to heighten the lethality of firearms have no place in our communities. They are uniquely lethal and make our Commonwealth less safe for families and law enforcement.

We understand that these are complicated conversations. We are grateful to the experts, advocates, and activists who met in good faith to discuss these policies - from both sides of the debate. We are grateful to the members of the Virginia House of Delegates, who took up this bill, took the courageous step to let it stand for itself, and voted on it.

The Judiciary Committee has voted to discuss this bill in 2021. This was not the outcome we wanted, but they can rest assured that they will hear from us, from advocates and from everyday Virginians in the intervening months about why we need to ban assault weapons in Virginia. In the meantime, the Judiciary Committee and Virginia Senate must swiftly pass the remaining seven, common-sense gun violence prevention laws before them. We need the action that voters demanded in November.”

In testimony before the committee this morning, Brady Vice President of Programs and USMC combat veteran, Dr. Kyleanne Hunter shared:

“As a combat veteran, I know first-hand the power of weapons of war. As a Marine, the M16A2 service rifle was the core of my tactical training...I had to use this weapon to save my life on multiple occasions on the battlefield - but when I see civilians carrying them on the streets of our cities, I am brought back to those days of combat, and the unrelenting knowledge of just how lethal they are.

The civilian version of these weapons carry virtually the same characteristics as their military counterpart. These characteristics have made these weapons desirable for mass shooters across the country. They are weapons of war that have no place on our streets. And when they are, they turn our streets into war zones.”

While the Senate will address HB 961 in the next legislative session, they still have seven gun safety bills before them this session, bills that make up the remainder of the “Governor’s Package.” Brady urges the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass these common-sense gun and public safety bills that were originally proposed by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam during the 2019 special session. Voters went to the polls in November in part because these bills did not receive a vote in the General Assembly last year during the special session.

Brady reminds the Committee and the General Assembly that those same voters are looking for action on these policies.

Brown concluded:

“We take Senators Edwards, Norment, Obenshain, McDougle, Stuart, Stanley, Chafin, Deeds, Petersen, and Surovell at their word that they will take up this bill in the 2021 session. We look forward to discussing this bill with them in the coming months.

Brady assures them and all Virginians that we will not abandon the effort to stop the sale of weapons of war, including accessories such as silencers, large-capacity magazines, and bump stocks, in the Commonwealth. This fight is not over and this conversation is not closed.”

About HB 961

HB 961 is a ban on the sale, purchase, manufacture, and most transfers of assault-style weapons in Virginia. The bill would likewise ban the sale, purchase, transfer, manufacture, or possession of large-capacity magazines, defined as magazines holding in excess of 12 rounds and trigger activators, such as bumpstocks.

Data and experience demonstrate that these bans work. Under a federal ban on large-capacity magazines, Virginia police collected progressively fewer of these magazines, with the number and percent increasing when the ban was allowed to expire. Bans, such as the policies included in HB 961, have been shown to reduce mass shootings when enacted at both the state and federal level.

The Remaining “Governor’s Package” Bills for Consideration in the Senate Include:

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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