Groups Say They Will Challenge New Gun Control Measures Passed in Virginia

April 22, 2020 Updated: April 22, 2020

Gun rights groups say they will continue to challenge the new gun control measures signed into law recently by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, in some cases by directly taking it to the courts.

The laws—which go into effect on July 1—include universal background checks on all gun sales, a limit on handgun purchases to one per month, a law penalizing gun owners for not reporting a stolen firearm, and a “red flag” bill that would allow authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from anyone deemed by a judge to be dangerous to themselves or others.

Northam signed the measures into law on April 10, even after opposition from Second Amendment advocates culminated in a rally of more than 22,000 people in the state’s capital earlier this year.

“We are preparing legal action on some of them,” Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), told The Epoch Times.

Brenden Boudreau, field director at the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR), told The Epoch Times the new laws are overreaching and are all “clearly in violation of the spirit of the Second Amendment.”

“NAGR and its members are preparing to hold politicians in both political parties accountable for their anti-gun actions in the 2021 election cycle,” he said.

Democrats last year won control of both chambers of the state legislature—for the first time in more than two decades—and vowed to enact stronger gun control policies, saying they will help reduce shootings and deaths. In addition to the majority in the state legislature, the governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general also are Democrats.

The will of voters have been ignored, according to Mark Oliva, director of public affairs at the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), who said they were disappointed to see the measures becoming law as Northam kept Virginians under a statewide lockdown that prevented public protest against his overreach.

“Virginians voiced opposition to these gun control laws by overwhelmingly passing Second Amendment resolutions in the counties and cities,” he told The Epoch Times. “They assembled peacefully by the tens of thousands—as is their right—and did it without incident, to oppose these measures.”

In Virginia, 91 of the state’s 95 counties have passed some sort of measure affirming their support for Second Amendment sanctuaries, part of a growing movement in which local officials and some sheriffs generally state that they won’t enforce new gun laws they believe are unconstitutional.

The NSSF is against all of the legislation pushed by the governor. Although the new laws have “serious concerns,” Oliva pointed out that the most egregious of the bills, “which would have outlawed the most popular-selling rifle today and also outlawed the majority of commonly-owned shotguns and handguns and associated magazines,” was defeated.

That bill, an “assault weapons” ban (House Bill 961) was shelved to next year’s session after four Democratic senators—Creigh Deeds, John Edwards, Chap Petersen, and Scott Surovell—broke with their party to join Republicans in rejecting the bill.

Oliva said NSSF will again oppose and work to defeat the assault weapons bill when it is reintroduced next year.

Gun-control advocates, meanwhile, have said that they’re planning to replicate their success in Virginia in other states.

Meanwhile, John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said his group plans to spend heavily this year in key battleground states such as Arizona, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania to elect lawmakers who support new gun restrictions, according to The Associated Press. 

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