That majority, in the Virginia House of Delegates, has passed seven gun control measures that are headed to the state Senate for committee review and possible floor votes despite a Jan. 20 demonstration in Richmond by several thousand opponents of the bills.
The House on Thursday and Friday sent bills to the Senate Judiciary Committee that, if passed by the Senate and signed by Gov. Ralph Northam, would:
— Limit individuals to one handgun purchase every 30 days
— Allow localities to pass or enforce ordinances or resolutions governing the possession, carrying or transport of firearms and ammunition in their locality
— Allow state prosecutors or law enforcement agencies to apply for court orders to remove firearms from persons deemed dangerous to themselves or others
— Allow a civil penalty against those who fail to report a stolen firearm within 24 hours of discovering its theft
— Require background checks on all firearms transfers except for inheritance, transfers between immediate family members, weapons buyback programs or antique firearm transfers
— Prohibit persons subject to permanent protective orders from knowingly possessing firearms
— Make it a felony to recklessly leave loaded, unsecured firearms accessible to minors in a manner that will endanger them
“While these bills barely passed the House, it shows that the new majority is not interested in listening to the overwhelming number of localities that have passed Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolutions as well as over 30,000 Virginians who came to support their constitutional rights on January 20th,” Kilgore, R-Gate City, said in a statement Friday. “I (am) disappointed that the new majority chose to ignore the calls of law-abiding Virginians to protect their constitutional rights.”
Kilgore said he has voted against all of the measures, including a House bill that would have banned the sale of AR-15 rifles. That bill and a companion Senate measure failed to pass in the current legislative session.
The measures follow an unsuccessful attempt by Northam during a 2019 General Assembly special session to have a Republican majority of legislators pass a package of gun control measures.
Northam’s effort came after a May 31 mass shooting in a Virginia Beach municipal office, where a city employee shot 12 people to death and wounded four others before police killed him.
After Democrats won majorities in the House of Delegates and the Senate in the November elections, that gave the party a legislative majority and a Democratic governor — Northam — to advance a gun control package similar to Northam’s special session effort.
Anti-gun control group the Virginia Citizens Defense League began a statewide campaign to press local governments to pass resolutions claiming their localities to be sanctuaries for citizens’ Second Amendment rights. Every county government and several towns and cities in far Southwest Virginia adopted similar resolutions leading up to the 2020 General Assembly session.
“I do not feel that these laws will decrease gun violence,” Kilgore said. “They will only be an infringement on the rights of law-abiding Virginians. We can change these laws, however, and it starts with retaking the majority.”