Virginia’s legislative session came to a close on Saturday, but not before gun-control advocates approved at least three anti-gun bills just hours before the deadline.
The Virginia Senate gave their final approval to bills banning the private transfer of firearms without a background check, limiting handgun purchases to one every 30 days, and making daycares/preschools and licensed day home facilities gun-free zones.
All legislation now goes to Gov. Ralph Northam, who is expected to sign any gun control proposal that crosses his desk.
“Every year, we lose more than one thousand Virginians to gun violence,” Northam said in a statement. “Today, this year, Virginia has said enough is enough. The emergency of gun violence must end. This legislation will help get us there.”
“And thank you to the legislators who finally listened to the voices of Virginians and voted to pass commonsense gun safety legislation,” he continued. “These bills will save lives.”
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The universal background check bill (Senate Bill 70 and House Bill 2) exempts gifts made to immediate family members, but any seller who fails to conduct a background check will be guilty of a Class 6 felony and any seller who purchases a firearm without obtaining a background check will be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
The one-handgun-a-month bill (Senate Bill 69 and House Bill 812) revives a policy passed in 1993 and championed by Virginia’s Gov. L. Douglas Wilder until a Republican legislature repealed it in 2012.
Wilder sold the measure to the legislature as a way to combat gun trafficking from Virginia to New York, but an analysis of ATF data by the NRA-ILA revealed that the three years before and after the law’s repeal saw no change in the number of firearms traced from Virginia to New York. It also stands to reason that bad actors willing to sell firearms to gun-running criminals won’t hesitate to sell more than one handgun per month.
Virginia’s gun-rights advocates spurred a pro-gun movement in communities across the state that culminated in a rally in Richmond at which 30,000 people attended to protest anti-gun policies. In addition, 146 towns, cities, and counties declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries and dozens of sheriffs vowed not to enforce new anti-gun measures.
Now that the legislative season is over, it’s clear that the movement succeeded in some areas while failing in others. Led by several moderate Democrats no doubt fearful of losing their seats, the Virginia Senate blocked legislation banning the sale, manufacture, and transfer of so-called “assault weapons” and “high-capacity magazines.”
The pro-gun Virginia Citizens Defense League credited the advocacy of gun owners for the surprising victory that saw four Democratic senators join six Republicans to block the legislation in committee.
But despite several close votes in the Senate, the anti-gun lobby succeeded in passing bills banning the private transfer of firearms without a background check, limiting handgun purchases to one per month, allowing local governments to enact draconian anti-gun measures, and allowing the confiscation of firearms without due process with a so-called “red flag” law.
Virginians will have a chance to flip the legislature back to red at the next election in November 2021.