Virginia Gun Laws 2019
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virginia gun laws 2019
Throughout the year, our legal experts track and analyze gun legislation in all 50 states, assigning laws and policies point values based on their respective strengths or weaknesses. States are ranked and given letter grades, which are then compared to the most recent gun death rates released by the CDC. Since we started this project in 2010, the evidence has been clear and consistent: strong gun laws save lives, but only in the states that are willing to act.
In 2022, 21 states and Washington DC passed 91 strong gun safety bills. These new laws will help ensure background checks on every gun sale, keep guns out of the hands of children, protect voters at polling places, and more. This brings the total number of new gun safety laws since the Sandy Hook shooting 10 years ago up to more than 525 laws in 49 states.
Public support for commonsense gun laws in the United States has been steadily increasing in recent years, due in large part to a seemingly ceaseless string of horrific mass shootings, rates of gun-related homicide that are unmatched by those of other high-income nations, and an epidemic of suicide by firearm.
Support for gun safety measures has been steadily increasing. A Gallup poll that has tracked U.S. public opinion on gun laws for decades reveals that only 43 percent of Americans in 2011 believed that laws governing the sale of guns should be made stricter, whereas that number had risen to 64 percent by October 2019.2 Support for specific gun policies is even higher: A September 2019 Pew Research Center poll found that 88 percent of Americans support requiring background checks for all gun sales; 71 percent support banning high-capacity ammunition magazines; and 69 percent support banning assault weapons.3
This increased public support for stronger gun laws has led to legislative action in many states. An analysis by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence found that in the 17 months following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 32 states and Washington, D.C., passed more than 110 gun safety bills.4
Universal background checks would require any seller of firearms, whether federally licensed firearms dealers or private sellers, to conduct a background check on prospective buyers before transferring a gun.8 Federal and state laws establish specific criteria that bar certain people from possessing or purchasing firearms. Implementing universal background checks would make it more difficult for people prohibited from firearm possession to easily obtain one, which would in turn help reduce gun violence and gun trafficking.
While significant progress has been made in recent years to strengthen gun laws at the state level, there has been little to no action in many states despite the urgent need to enact sensible reforms. Part of the problem is partisan gerrymandering.
Some states have adopted reforms to keep politicians out of the redistricting process, putting independent commissions in charge instead.12 In 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the For the People Act, which would require every state to use independent commissions in drawing federal districts.13 However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to bring the legislation up for a vote.14 In the absence of legislative action, partisan map-drawing is still the norm. Furthermore, advances in map-drawing software have made partisan operatives much more effective at drawing districts that skew to their benefit.15
One major concern in Michigan is the high number of gun-related suicides. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6,424 people in Michigan died by gun-related suicide from 2008 through 2017, meaning a gun suicide occurred in the state every 14 hours.46 To address this crisis, Michiganders are urging their state Legislature to enact ERPO legislation. Early research on the effect of ERPO laws has found that this measure is particularly effective at preventing gun-related suicides.47 A February 2019 poll by the Michigan chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics found that 70 percent of Michigan voters support the proposal, including 64 percent of Republicans.48
In 2017, Republicans won 51 percent of seats in the Virginia House of Delegates with only 45.2 percent of the vote.52 This unearned victory has had a visible effect on gun violence legislation in the state. In January 2019, a package of multiple gun violence prevention bills was introduced for consideration in the regular legislative session and were systematically voted down by the Republican majority in the House Subcommittee on Militia, Police and Public Safety, ending any opportunity for legislative action on gun violence for the year.53 A few months later, when Gov. Ralph Northam (D) convened a special session of the legislature following a mass shooting at a municipal building in Virginia Beach,54 Republican leadership doubled down on its blanket refusal to give serious consideration to any measure to improve gun laws in the state. Although legislators filed 30 bills with proposals to address gun violence in this special session, the GOP-controlled Virginia Legislature abruptly adjourned after 90 minutes without considering a single proposal.55
Frustration with the ERPO bill stalling in committee has led some members of the House to consider taking the more drastic step of trying to force a vote through a procedural maneuver called a discharge petition.68 In addition, Gov. Wolf has refused to let inaction by the state legislature preclude any progress on this issue, signing an executive order in August 2019 that established a special council on gun violence. The council will spearhead multiple initiatives focused on reducing community gun violence, combating mass shootings, and addressing domestic incidents of gun violence, including gun suicides.69 Still, in the absence of legislative action, there is a limit to the steps Gov. Wolf can take to protect Pennsylvania families from gun violence.
In combination, gerrymandering and other anti-democratic practices may have artificially kept Republicans in control of the Wisconsin Legislature. This represents a significant missed opportunity to advance gun policy. Wisconsin has been the site of horrific acts of gun violence, including the 2012 hate-fueled attack at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek that killed six and the murder of Zina Daniel and four of her co-workers by her estranged husband at the spa where she worked.72 Enacting an ERPO law and expanding background checks for gun sales are key priorities for advocates and voters in Wisconsin.73 An August 2019 Marquette University Law School poll found that 80 percent of Wisconsin voters support both measures.74
Gerrymandering frustrates the will of the people. Fixing gerrymandering would clear the way for state legislatures to enact policies with broad public support, including laws that would help reduce gun violence. In a nation where the vast majority of voters support strengthening gun laws, one should expect stronger regulation of guns and more resources dedicated to ensuring public health and safety. But in the states described above, democracy is not working in the way that it should. The political party that holds power did not receive the majority of public support, and this electoral disconnect has significant legislative consequences. In these states, and across the country, every new tragic episode of gun violence is a reminder that more must be done to protect communities and remove the obstacle of partisan gerrymandering.
Chelsea Parsons is the vice president of Gun Violence Prevention at the Center for American Progress. Her work focuses on advocating for progressive laws and policies relating to gun violence prevention and the criminal justice system at the federal, state, and local levels. In this role, she has helped develop measures to strengthen gun laws and reduce gun violence that have been included in federal and state legislation and executive actions. Prior to joining the Center, Parsons was general counsel to the New York City criminal justice coordinator, a role in which she helped develop and implement criminal justice initiatives and legislation in areas including human trafficking, sexual assault, family violence, firearms, identity theft, indigent defense, and justice system improvements. She previously served as an assistant New York state attorney general and a staff attorney clerk for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In April of 2020, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a number of measures into law that aimed to reduce gun violence. This action came in response to the 2019 mass shooting at Virginia Beach, which prompted a state-wide reevaluation of the role of guns and how their sale and use should be regulated or changed, if at all. The regulations put in place by Governor Northam included multiple changes.
If you are a gun owner or are curious about recent gun law changes in Virginia as of 2020, it can be difficult to keep up with the news and the state of current regulations. The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge strive to keep you informed on the latest legal updates to Virginia gun laws.
With Democrats in control of the Virginia State Legislature, tensions are rising as lawmakers have proposed several bills aimed at strengthening background checks and limiting handgun purchases to one a month. Red Flag laws would prohibit a person from purchasing a firearm if they pose a substantial risk to themselves or others. 041b061a72