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Virginia: Gov. Northam Signs Gun Control Bills

By: José Niño

Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam signed several gun control bills into law this week. The laws are expected to go into effect on July 1.

Northam had to break a sweat to get his policies through. At the start of last year, gun rights activists organized a pro-Second Amendment rally in Richmond, Virginia, which drew more than 20,000 peaceful participants. From there, gun owners were able to mitigate the damage that Northam originally sought to carry out and ultimately limited the number of gun control bills he could have passed.

At a press conference, Northam said he will try again next legislative session to pass some of the failed gun control bills from the 2020 session.

Nonetheless, several bills were able to receive Northam’s signature this year, namely:

  1. Senate Bill 70 and House Bill 2 impose mandatory fees on private sales of firearms. Not paying fees on these sales would subject individuals to criminal penalties. Sales between friends, neighbors, or hunting companions are not exempt from Virginia’s new universal background check law.
  2. Senate Bill 69 and House Bill 812 place limits on an individual’s right to purchase a handgun. Now, prospective gun owners are limited to only one handgun purchase a month.
  3. Senate Bill 240 and House Bill 674 are “Red Flag” gun confiscation orders that allow for the seizure of a person’s firearm without due process. Dubious allegations are all that’s needed for law enforcement to confiscate firearms under this law. In passing this law, Virginia became the 18th state in the nation with red flag laws on the books.
  4. House Bill 9 penalizes gun owners who either lose or have their firearms stolen if they don’t report them within a 48-hour time window of being lost or stolen.

Other bills, including Senate Bill 35 and House Bill 421, were sent back to the General Assembly for amendments. Under these bills, Virginia’s firearm preemptions law would be undermined by provisions that allow for municipalities to carve out new, so-called “gun-free zones” at government buildings, parks, and government-approved events. Like other gun-free zones, these new civilian disarmament zones will function as safe spaces for criminals.

Virginia has traditionally been a middle- of-the-road state for gun owners, ranked at 31st place according to Guns & Ammo magazine’s rankings for most gun-friendly states in America. With the passage of these new gun control bills, Virginia will assuredly drop further in these rankings.

From now on, gun rights activists in the Old Dominion will have their hands full trying to stave off gun grabs in future legislative sessions.

José Niño is a Venezuelan American freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at joseinpolitics@gmail.com. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.

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