Governor Ralph Northam has called for a special session of the General Assembly to specifically address gun control regulations following the mass shooting in a Virginia Beach city government building in May.
According to a release, this special session is intended to address gun violence in the Commonwealth.
We continue to lose too many lives to senseless and preventable acts of gun violence, but we have the power to make meaningful change,” said Northam. “Now is the time to act. Virginians deserve votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers. I urge the members of the General Assembly to engage in a thorough, meaningful discussion about these proposed bills and to allow every member to cast their votes on the floor.
One bill would require background checks on all firearms sales and transactions, mandating that any person selling, renting, trading or transferring a firearm must first get the results of a background check before the transaction can be completed.
Another would ban “dangerous weapons” such as assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, bump stocks and silencers/suppressors.
Northam also wants to reinstate a law that allows only one handgun to be purchased within a 30-day period by a given person.
He also wants a law requiring lost and stolen firearms to be reported to law enforcement within 24 hours of the weapon’s disappearance.
Another bill would create an Extreme Risk Protective Order, which would allow law enforcement and courts to temporarily separate a person from their firearms if the person exhibits dangerous behavior that presents an immediate threat to themselves or to others.
Still another bill would prohibit people who are subject to final protective orders from possessing firearms, expanding on a current law that prohibits people subject to final protective orders of family abuse from possessing firearms.
Northam has also proposed legislation to enhance the punishment for allowing access to loaded, unsecured firearms by a child. The bill would raise it from a class 3 misdemeanor to a class 6 felony and raises the age of the child from 14 to 18.
The final bill in Northam’s agenda enables localities to enact any firearms ordinances that are stricter than state law, including regulating firearms in municipal buildings, libraries and at permitted events.
This last bill has been an issue of contention in the Charlottesville area following the events of the Unite the Right rally in August 2017.
In the end, the legislature abruptly ended the session and tabled it until after the November elections, which ensures gun control will be an election issue. Currently, the Republicans hold a slight majority in both the House and Senate in Virginia. How will the pending gun control vote affect the next election? Share your answer in the comment section.