Before the 46-day General Assembly session began earlier this month in Richmond, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) announced a sweeping gun control legislative package that would impose new restrictions on law-abiding Virginians. Although keeping the Commonwealth’s streets safe is one of the top priorities in the 2019 session, the gun control measures from Northam and Democratic Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) are very similar to those which have failed to reduce gun violence in other states.
In the 2017 session, the Republican majority in both houses of the General Assembly killed 80 pieces of gun control legislation forwarded by Democrats. Three weeks into proceedings on Bank Street, House Republicans are tracking just as well as last year.
The progressive gun control bills that have been defeated so far this year include:
H.B. 1644, introduced by Delegate Jeff Bourne (D-Richmond), which would have fined crime victims who do not report a firearm as stolen within 24 hours of a theft.
H.B. 1654, sponsored by Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke), which would have made it illegal to carry certain firearms in public in the City of Roanoke.
H.B. 1691, patroned by Delegate Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church), which would have prohibited the import, sale, transfer, or possession of “undetectable” firearms, preemptively banning possession of polymer receivers, which cannot fire a bullet without metal components attached. The bill was offered with absolutely no evidence that the aforementioned firearms were counteracting current security installments.
H.B. 1763, introduced by Delegate Rip Sullivan (D-Arlington), known as the “Red Flag” bill, would have allowed the confiscation of legally-owned firearms without due process.
H.B. 1856, forwarded by Delegate Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond), which supported localities’ rights to adopt ordinances prohibiting concealed carry by citizens in public libraries.
H.B. 1899, patroned by Delegate John Bell (D-Chantilly), which would have prohibited 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.
H.B. 1956, sponsored by Delegate David Toscano (D-Charlottesville), which would have given localities throughout the Commonwealth the right to prohibit firearms at permitted events, restricting both First Amendment and Second Amendment rights.
H.B. 1992, patroned by Delegate Cia Price (D-Newport News), which was set to eliminate state preemption of local firearms ordinances, giving localities the ability to adopt a patchwork of inconsistent gun regulations across the Commonwealth.
H.B. 2027, forwarded by Delegate Kathleen Murphy (D-McLean), which would subject owners of firearms to civil lawsuits if their firearm is taken by a child under the age of 18. The bill would have required gun owners to “reasonably” secure their firearms, without giving an actual definition of the term, leaving interpretation open to the courts and plaintiffs’ attorneys.
H.B. 2244, also introduced by Delegate Sullivan, which was efforting to take away the right to bear arms from some individuals convicted of misdemeanor assault in cases involving motivation driven by the victim’s race, religion, color, or national origin.
H.B. 2285, sponsored by Delegate Cliff Hayes (D-Chesapeake), which would have levied Class 6 felony penalties on those under 18 who gained access to a firearm. The bill would require require all weapons be kept in secure, locked storage in homes where minors are present, and gave no exemption for self-defense, or where the minor has parental authorization to hunt, or target shoot on private land.
H.B. 2399, patroned by Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), which was set to increase 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.
H.B. 2479, introduced by Delegate Ken Plum (D-Reston), which would criminalize private party firearms transfers not processed through an official gun dealer.
H.B. 2492, forwarded by Delegate Kathy Tran (D-Fairfax), which was set to prohibit standard capacity magazines and criminalize the possession of semi-automatic firearms.
H.B. 2604, sponsored by Delegate Jeion Ward (D-Hampton), which would have reinstituted Virginia’s “One Handgun a Month” law, which was repealed in 2012.
H.B. 2797, patroned by Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, which was targeting the enactment of new paperwork requirements on 18, 19, and 20 year olds buying certain semi-automatic rifles.
With crossover coming up, just one gun control bill remains alive in the House of Delegates.
Delegate Murphy’s H.B. 2504 is set to undermine 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. The bill has yet to be deliberated in the House Courts of Justice Committee.
Regardless, considering the fate of the aforementioned legislation, and the fact that Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City) had previously said all gun bills from Democrats would be “dead on arrival”, it is likely to be killed as well.