Firearms will be a heavy topic of debate and discussion during Virginia’s General Assembly session which started yesterday. Democrats are now currently in control of the Virginia house, senate, and governor’s office. Democrats currently have the path forward to introduce and pass sweeping gun legislation. These potentially sweeping policies changes has lead to Virginia’s cities to create second amendment sanctuaries to fight against the proposed bills democrats are looking to make law.

In the past, a number of firearm bills have been quietly submitted throughout the years in Virginia. These pervious bills have failed in subcommittees or quickly been dismissed during a special session on gun violence after the Virginia Beach Shooting. Now, fast forward to 2020 with Gov. Northam and the Democrat lead majority in the Virginia legislator are looking to change that.

Proposed Gun Control Bills 

During the General Assembly Virginian law makers will be looking to propose strict firearm legislation. Proposed guns bills are: one handgun a month purchase policy, emergency protection order act (Red Flag Laws), and universal background checks for all gun sales. Expect for those among immediate family members, through inheritance or antiques.  

Within the universal background check bill lawmakers are looking to give dealers more time to conduct checks. Giving state police up to five days to response to the background check instead of one. This bill would also eliminate the dealer’s current permission to complete the firearm sale, if the State Police background check system is backed up. 

Several of the proposed bills on gun control call for research studies. Studies that focus on personal and economic impact on gun violence on Virginians, support funds for shooting victims, and prevention funds aimed at reducing violence within the state. 

Other Proposals 

There are other smaller gun related  proposals being submitted during this General Assembly. Sen. Adam Ebbin proposed a ban on carrying weapons including knives around Capitol Square in Richmond. The change could also be incorporated faster into General Assembly rules and would stretch to major rallies being held. While a separate bill in that vain would ban weapons in any state office buildings within the commonwealth. 

Two additional proposals would add preschools and home-based day care centers to the list of locations where guns are banned. 

A separate new bill would change the definition of the state’s ban on paramilitary activity.  The new definition states, “with the intent of intimidating any person or group of persons by drilling, parading, or marching with any firearm, any explosive or incendiary device, or any components or combination thereof.”

Proposals will be put out on 30-round magazine bans, banning 3-D printed guns, expanded bans on carrying certain loaded shotguns and rifles, and the limitation or ban on the sale of “assault firearms.” An assault firearm would be defined as certain semi-automatic rifles that can shoot more than 10 rounds. 

Virginia lawmakers are also considering: changing the minimum age from purchasing a firearm from 18 to 21, stricter penalties leaving an unsecured loaded gun around someone younger than 14, requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms within 24 hours, make it illegal for a fugitive to have or buy a gun, bar anyone with a long standing protective order due to violence, or to make it illegal for anyone convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime or domestic violence to own a gun without court approval. 

Gov. Northam administration is considering an assault weapon registration requirement for current owners, who would then be grandfathered in under the ban. 

Local governments could be giving the ability to set their own rules on possessing, carrying, and transporting firearms in places such as parks or libraries. Allowing local government bodies to destroy handguns during buy back programs instead of sending them to auction instead. 

GOP Gun Proposals

Several republicans will be submitting their own gun-related proposals.

Republican lawmakers are proposing firearms safety and education in all grades and schools for a minimum of two hours. That is taught by a law enforcement or military instructor. The instructor wouldn’t use actually guns to teach the class. Currently, laws allows for elementary schools to have them, if the local school board approves.

Sen. Bill DeSteph introduce a number of bills setting mandatory prison time for: pointing a weapon at an officer, having a concealed weapon during the commission of a felony, stealing a firearm or shooting at a house, school, or shooting at a car. 

State Del. Bobby Orrock has proposed a bill that would require every person buying a gun to show the dealer competence with a gun as required for concealed carry permit holders. 

Other Republican bills that will be proposed are; allowing concealed carry without an permit, attempting to remove “gun-free” zones and repeal the ban on certain people carrying in churches or houses of worship. 

This General Assembly only last for 60 days to cover a wide range of state and local concerns. 

Governor Northam and the democrat held state house and senate are looking to make sweeping and dramatic changes to the gun laws on the book. Which will  greatly restrict residents ability  to own and posses firearms within the state. Republican lawmakers are proposing their own gun bills to response to the wave of gun control policies. 

We will have to wait and see what happens. It is up to the people of Virginia to speak to their representatives and let their voices be heard on the issues. To let their duly elected officials know how their rights should be protected. 

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