Gov. Northam unveils his gun violence prevention agenda ahead of July 9 special session

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam speaks to the press about a mass shooting on June 1, 2019, in Virginia, Beach, Virginia. – A municipal employee sprayed gunfire “indiscriminately” in a government building complex on May 31, 2019, police said, killing 12 people and wounding four in the latest mass shooting to rock the US. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. — Governor Ralph Northam has unveiled his legislative agenda to address gun violence at the July 9 special session of the General Assembly.

Northam announced eight bills Wednesday afternoon that he says will “save lives and improve public safety” across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“Now is the time to act—Virginians deserve votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers. I urge the members of the General Assembly to engage in a thorough, meaningful discussion about these proposed bills and to allow every member to cast their votes on the floor,” said Northam.

Northam’s proposed package includes:

  1. Legislation requiring background checks on all firearms sales and transactions. The bill mandates that any person selling, renting, trading, or transferring a firearm must first obtain the results of a background check before completing the transaction.
  2. Legislation banning dangerous weapons. This will include bans on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, bump stocks and silencers.
  3. Legislation to reinstate Virginia’s successful law allowing only one handgun purchase within a 30-day period.
  4. Legislation requiring that lost and stolen firearms be reported to law enforcement within 24 hours.
  5. Legislation creating an Extreme Risk Protective Order, allowing law enforcement and the courts to temporarily separate a person from firearms if the person exhibits dangerous behavior that presents an immediate threat to self or others.
  6. Legislation prohibiting all individuals subject to final protective orders from possessing firearms. The bill expands Virginia law which currently prohibits individuals subject to final protective orders of family abuse from possessing firearms.
  7. Legislation enhancing the punishment for allowing access to loaded, unsecured firearm by a child from a Class 3 Misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony. The bill also raises the age of the child from 14 to 18.
  8. Legislation enabling localities to enact any firearms ordinances that are stricter than state law. This includes regulating firearms in municipal buildings, libraries and at permitted events.

The General Assembly will adopt procedures and rules and set the agenda for the special session.

The governor has urged Virginia lawmakers to allow the proposed gun laws to go before the entire General Assembly for a vote and not kill them in small subcommittees. Over the past several years, several gun bills have been voted down at early morning meetings during the session, which drew praise from gun rights groups and anger from gun control activists.

After Northam announced the special session in June, Speaker of the House Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) said he plans to give Northam’s proposals a “fair hearing” but said Republicans have their own ideas for preventing gun violence.

Some of those ideas include introducing bills requiring mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes and address mental health issues.

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