With the legislative session underway, a slew of gun control bills introduced by House Democrats, including several backed by Governor Ralph Northam as part of his sweeping gun control agenda, failed to advance in committee following opposition from Republican lawmakers.
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a prohibition on private party transactions, and a reinstitution of Virginia’s “One Handgun a Month” law, previously repealed in 2012.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 failure of the bills follows pledges by House Republicans to support the Second Amendment.
“The Virginia House GOP will steadfastly fight to defend the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens from far-left gun control proposals this session,” House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) declared following Northam’s announcement.
Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City) had previously said the gun bills would be “dead on arrival”, predicting that none of Northam’s bills would advance out of committee to the House floor.
While four gun control bills remain active in the House, both gun rights advocates and supported lawmakers predicted they would be defeated in committee, as lawmakers continue hearing filed legislation.
While Second Amendment supporters have expressed confidence in holding the line this session, several cautioned that the defeated measures would be reintroduced, passed, and signed into law if Republicans fail to hold the House of Delegates and state Senate in November’s elections.
The measures which have been defeated for the year include:
HB1644, introduced by Delegate Jeff Bourne (D-Richmond), which fines crime victims who do not report a firearm as stolen within 24 hours of the theft.
HB1654, introduced by Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke), which prohibits the carrying of certain firearms in public in the city of Roanoke.
HB1691, introduced by Delegate Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church), which bans the import, sale, transfer, or possession of “undetectable” firearms. The bill would preemptively ban possession of polymer receivers, which cannot fire a bullet without metal components attached. The bill was offered with no evidence that allegedly “undetectable” firearms were evading security checkpoints.
HB1763, introduced by Delegate Rip Sullivan (D-Arlington), which allows confiscation of legally-owned firearms without due process, also known as a “Red Flag” bill. The legislation provides only misdemeanor penalties for individuals making false statements against a gun owner, rather than the usual felony penalty for perjury found in other legal proceedings.
HB1856, introduced by Delegate Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond), which allows localities to adopt ordinances prohibiting concealed carry by law-abiding citizens in public libraries.
HB1956, introduced by Delegate David Toscano (D-Charlottesville), which allows localities to prohibit firearms at permitted events, potentially restricting the constitutional right of citizens to peaceably assemble while exercising their Second Amendment rights.
HB1992, introduced by Delegate Cia Price (D-Newport News), which eliminates state preemption of local firearms ordinances, allowing localities to adopt a patchwork of inconsistent gun regulations across the Commonwealth.
HB2244, introduced by Delegate Rip Sullivan, which takes away the gun rights of certain persons convicted of misdemeanor assault in cases involving motivation driven by the victim’s race, religion, color, or national origin.
HB2285, introduced by Delegate Cliff Hayes (D-Chesapeake), which creates a class 6 felony penalty for gun owners who allow persons under age 18 access to a firearm. The bill would require require all weapons be kept in secure, locked storage in homes where minors are present. The bill provides no exemption for self-defense, or where the minor has parental authorization to hunt or target shoot on private land.
HB2399, introduced by Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), which increases the length of time for electronic background checks from one to five days, creating the potential for longer waits by law-abiding victims seeking to buy a firearm for immediate personal protection.
HB2479, introduced by Delegate Ken Plum (D-Reston), which criminalizes private party transfers not processed through a dealer.
HB2492, introduced by Delegate Kathy Tran (D-Fairfax), which bans standard capacity magazines and criminalizes the possession of common semiautomatic firearms already owned by Virginians.
HB2604, introduced by Delegate Jeion Ward (D-Hampton), which reinstitutes Virginia’s “One Handgun a Month” law, previously repealed in 2012.
Only four gun control bills remain alive in the House, including:
HB1899, introduced by Delegate John Bell (D-Chantilly), which prohibits electronic, video, and online courses offered by state-certified and NRA-certified firearms instructors from being offered as proof of gun safety knowledge when applying for a concealed handgun permit.
HB2027, introduced by Delegate Kathleen Murphy (D-McLean), which subjects gun owners to civil lawsuits if their firearm is taken by a minor child. The bill would have required gun owners to “reasonably” secure their firearms, without defining the term, leaving interpretation open to the courts and plaintiffs’ attorneys.
HB2504, introduced by Delegate Kathleen Murphy, which undermines due process rights by requiring gun owners to give up their firearms within 24 hours of being served with a protective order, before the subject has had a chance to clear his or her name in court.
HB2797, introduced by Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, which enacts new paperwork requirements on 18, 19, and 20 year olds buying certain semiautomatic rifles.
The remainder of the bills will be heard in committee as the legislative session continues.