The bill stipulates that courts that find “that there is probable cause to believe that a person poses a substantial risk of personal injury to himself or others in the near future by such person’s possession or acquisition of a firearm, shall issue an ex parte emergency substantial risk order,” according to language of the bill. “Such order shall prohibit the person who is subject to the order from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm for the duration of the order.”
Similar bills “have reduced the deaths in several states, particularly suicides, and also have been used in several situations of threats of mass shootings,” said state Sen. George Barker (D-39th), WTVR reported.
However, Republicans said the bill would impact people’s Second Amendment right while creating dangerous situations for officers trying to enforce such measures. “What we’re doing is going to undermine not only the Second Amendment rights but the right to due process of Virginians,” said Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-26th).
The move comes after tens of thousands of gun-rights demonstrators gathered near the state Capitol premises to highlight what they say are draconian measures to stifle their rights. Officials have said that more than 20,000 people showed up.
Gov. Ralph Northam, who signed an emergency declaration ahead of the rally to ban weapons at the State Capitol, said the measures abide by the Constitution and do not threaten Virginia citizens’ constitutional rights.
“They are constitutional. They don’t threaten the Second Amendment. Their purpose is to keep Virginia safe,” Northam said, reported WSLS. “We’re going to do work together, sit down at the table and find things that we can agree on and at the end of the day, make Virginia a safer place for everybody,” he said.
The rally drew the attention of President Donald Trump, who later told reporters that such gun legislation will prompt people to vote for Republicans in 2020.
“I think Virginia is crazy where they want to take away guns,” Trump told Fox News on Wednesday, speaking from Davos, Switzerland. “Virginia is very much in play. I think we are going to win [the] state of Virginia. They want to take everyone’s gun away in Virginia. You can’t do it. You can’t do it. People need that for safety. They need it for hunting … but many people need it for safety.”