The Virginia House passed seven Democratic-backed gun laws, including “red flag” measures, coming weeks after thousands of gun-rights advocates rallied at the state Capitol building.
“Today we answer the majority of Virginians who called for gun violence prevention legislation at the polls last November,” state House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Our goal is to save lives and promote responsible gun ownership in the Commonwealth. Public safety is our number one concern.”
The Virginia Senate passed a version of the gun measures last week.
“While [Thursday’s] actions will not lessen the grief of those who have lost loved ones to gun violence, the legislation passed in the House of Delegates will prevent more senseless deaths and make our Commonwealth safer,” said House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn in a statement.
The laws include universal background checks, red flag laws, allow localities to regulate guns, mandate reporting of lost and stolen guns, a “one handgun a month rule,” prohibiting child access to firearms, and disarming domestic abusers, according to Virginia Democrats.
Attempts to pass red flag laws in past years had all been ended in Republican-controlled committees before they advanced to full-floor votes, The Associated Press noted.
Democratic Senator John S. Edwards, the chairman of the state House’s Judiciary Committee, told Newsweek that he doesn’t think Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, will veto the legislation.
“Democrats think we need to have reasonable restrictions to protect people from gun violence,” he said. “People ran on the fact that we needed to do something. We have constituents who feel we need reasonable bills to protect the public with respect to gun violence.”
However, numerous municipalities and sheriff’s offices across Virginia have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries in light of the push for gun control in the state legislature.
Gun Owners of America condemned the two bills, saying Democrats are “ignoring the voice of the people on gun control.”
“Gun-grabbing Democrats in Virginia seem to be headed for that same electoral cliff, because voters will ‘remember in November,’” group President Erich Pratt said in a statement, according to The Hill.
Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association (NRA) assailed the passage of the bills.
Some Democratic lawmakers “in the House of Delegates are out of control and running roughshod over our rights,” said Catherine Mortensen, NRA spokesperson, in a statement. “The House of Delegates has rushed through a package of unvetted legislation that targets law-abiding Virginians.” She added that the lawmakers are “misrepresenting their gun control bills, shutting down debate, and displaying utter distain for the fundamental rights of their constituents. Virginians deserve better.”