Preliminary grades for the 2019 session of the Virginia General Assembly.
So far, House Republicans have killed fourteen Democratic gun control bills, following earlier defeats of anti-gun legislation by Senate Republicans. Only four gun control bills remain alive in the House.
Governor Northam and Democratic Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) have made gun control a leading priority for the legislative session, proposing broad new restrictions on law-abiding gun owners, including: bans on commonly-owned semiautomatic firearms, the passage of firearms confiscation measures lacking due process, a prohibition on private party transactions, and a reinstitution of Virginia’s “One Handgun a Month” law, previously repealed in 2012.
Gun rights supporters with the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) slammed the proposal as “California-style gun control” which they said represented the broadest attempt to restrict firearms ever introduced in Virginia.
The House action comes a week after the state Senate killed legislation pertaining to Red Flag laws, limits on the number of handguns purchased in a month, and nine other bills promoted as part of the Governor’s agenda.
Over the last two days, Republicans in both chambers of the General Assembly rejected Governor Northam’s and Virginia Democrats’ calls for common ground on the issue of gun safety, defeating in committee and subcommittee a number of common-sense reforms that have received bipartisan support in many states.
Among the measures Republicans disallowed from reaching a floor vote was an “Extreme Risk Protection Law”, sponsored by Senator George Barker in SB1458 and Delegate Rip Sullivan in HB1763. This law, which would have temporarily kept firearms away from people who pose a risk to themselves and others, was rejected with only Republican votes in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee and without a vote in the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Subcommittee #1.
Just as they did last year, Republicans also crushed universal background check legislation that is supported by 94% of Virginians. Everyday Virginia Democrats and Republicans alike have spoken loud and clear issue of common-sense gun reform, unfortunately, Republican members of the General Assembly have decided to ignore them.
HB 1763, introduced in the House of Delegates by Del. Rip Sullivan, is an extreme risk protection order bill that would allow law enforcement to ask a judge to prevent someone deemed a danger to themselves or others from buying or possessing firearms. From Truman Lewis, Fairfax News:
“Not only would this bill help stop horrific events like school shootings, it will help address one of the less talked-about crises in Virginia – suicide by firearm. Evidence from other states shows that this type of bill saves lives while remaining consistent with the Second Amendment. It is long past time for us in the Commonwealth to pass this critical bill to curb the emergency that is preventable gun violence,” Sullivan said.
The bill will be introduced in the Senate by Senator George Barker (D-VA39). “No one should lose a child, a spouse, a parent, or a friend because we would not take a gun away temporarily from someone who was a risk to use that gun to kill,” said Barker, of Alexandria.
Sullivan, whose district includes parts of Arlington and McLean, introduced similar bills during the 2017 and 2018 sessions, and the 2019 version reflects input from stakeholders ranging from law enforcement officials to gun safety advocates.
So far, seven states have had some form of ERPO legislation introduced for the 2109 legislative session. LEAP Forward is tracking action on HB 1763 and is grading support for the bill.