RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) -- Governor Ralph Northam has announced a comprehensive package of legislation that he claims will prevent gun violence and improve the safety of Virginia’s citizens and communities.
He said the package includes measures to require universal background checks; establish an Extreme Risk Protective Order; reinstate Virginia’s One Handgun a Month law; prohibit individuals subject to final protective orders from possessing firearms; ban assault firearms; prevent children from accessing firearms; and require individuals to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement.
"We lose too many Virginians each year to senseless gun violence, and it is time we take meaningful steps to protect the health and safety of our citizens," said Governor Northam. "I look forward to opening a dialogue with the General Assembly on this legislative package of reasonable gun violence reforms, which appropriately balances Second Amendment Rights with public safety."
The Extreme Risk Protective Order creates a legal mechanism to temporarily separate a person from their firearms and prevent them from accessing firearms when the court finds that they pose a substantial danger to themselves or others.
"Every death by gun violence is a tragedy, and one of the most heartbreaking facts is that many of these are preventable. This bill, which mirrors legislative steps taken in numerous states from Florida to California, would enable family and friends to stop—with plenty of due process and respect for Second Amendment rights—an individual from committing gun violence before a single shot is fired," said Delegate Rip Sullivan. "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."
The universal background check bill will close a loophole in Virginia law, and require background checks on all firearm sales, including private, or online sales.
Virginia’s one handgun a month law had been in effect for almost 20 years prior to its repeal in 2012.
Two lawmakers will sponsor legislation to reinstate the law.
Virginia has consistently been identified as a source state for crime guns recovered in other states, and this bill will help to prevent people from stockpiling firearms and transporting them for sale in other states, Northam claims.
The protective order bill will prevent any person subject to a final order of protection from purchasing, possessing, or transporting firearms.
It will also require these individuals to turn over their firearms within 24 hours, and certify to the courts that the firearms have been transferred.
The lost and stolen firearm bill requires that any person who loses, or has a firearm stolen from their possession, report the loss or theft to law enforcement within 24 hours of discovery.
The child access prevention bill increases the penalty for leaving a loaded, unsecured firearm around a child and raises the age of a child in existing law from 14 to 18.
Other lawmakers will patron legislation to ban the sale, purchase, possession, and transport of assault firearms in the Commonwealth.
The bill also modifies the definition of assault firearm to any firearm that is equipped with a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition.