With Virginia’s General Assembly scheduled to meet next week, Governor Ralph Northam proposed a sweeping package of new gun control laws Friday, just as House Republican leaders were rolling out a plan offering tax relief to 2.7 million middle and low-income Virginians.
Northam’s gun control package, announced via email, would impose broad new restrictions on law-abiding citizens, similar to those which have failed to reduce gun violence in other states.
“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.”
Among other measures, Northam’s legislative package would ban semiautomatic firearms, prohibit private-party transactions, institute so-called “Red Flag” laws allowing the removal of guns without due process, reinstitute the “One Handgun Per Month” gun rationing law which was repealed in 2012, and impose fines on gun owners who do not report a lost or stolen firearm quickly enough.
Northam, a vocal opponent of Second Amendment rights, took pride in his ‘F’ rating from the NRA during his 2017 campaign for governor, even joining gun control groups in a protest outside the NRA’s headquarters. On the trail, he campaigned with even more extreme opponents of gun rights, including his running mate, Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, who called for the confiscation of semiautomatic firearms from law-abiding citizens.
Carrying Northam’s legislation are a number of committed anti-gun Democrats, including delegates Rip Sullivan (D-McLean), Kathleen Murphy (D-McLean), Jeff Bourne (D-Richmond), Cliff Hayes (D-Chesapeake), and Kathy Tran (D-Springfield), as well as senators Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) and Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria).
Northam’s gun control package comes during a time of rising anti-Second Amendment sentiment with the Democratic Party, as its lawmakers and candidates aggressively push to mirror more restrictive states such as New York and California.
One of those proposals was recently floated by Dan Helmer, the Democratic challenger to Tim Hugo (R-Clifton), in which Helmer called for “SKU-level reporting” of every box of ammunition sold to a government-run database, which investigators would comb through to try and identify mass shooters. Helmer offered no means to distinguish law-abiding gun owners from a would-be killer who purchases only a few boxes of ammo.
Gun control is expected to be a major point of debate during the 2019 legislative session, which begins next Wednesday. Gun rights groups including the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) have already begun mobilizing opposition to the planned restrictions.