Virginia Governor Outlines Gun Control Laws for Special Session

July 8, 2019


Matthew Hoy

In the wake of last month's mass shooting in the Virginia Beach Municipal Building, Gov. Ralph "Blackface and the Klan" Northam has announced the new gun control laws he wants passed in a special session of the legislature scheduled to begin tomorrow, July 9. Northam has conceded that none of the measures he's supporting would've prevented the state's latest mass shooting.

The new gun laws Northam is pushing are:

  • Universal background checks, closing a loophole allowing private citizens to sell guns without getting background checks.
  • Bans on assault weapons, high-capacity ammunition magazines, silencers and devices that increase a gun’s firing rate (such as “bump stocks”).
  • Requiring anyone whose firearm is lost or stolen to report it to police within 24 hours.
  • Creating an “extreme risk protective order” allowing courts to seize guns from people who a judge deems a threat to themselves or others. This is also known as a “red-flag law.”
  • Prohibiting anyone subject to a court’s final protective order from possessing a gun. Current law applies a ban only to people who are subject to a protective order for family abuse.
  • Allowing cities and counties the ability to pass gun laws stricter than state law, such as banning firearms from public buildings or events.

Again, none of these proposed laws would've prevented the murders in Virginia Beach.

The final proposed law in that list is especially problematic for otherwise law-abiding gun owners because it can create a patchwork of laws across the state and snag unsuspecting concealed carriers for unwittingly violating local laws they know nothing about.

While Northam has the ability to call a special session, he cannot dictate what is considered by the legislature or what gets passed. Republicans enjoy narrow majorities in both legislative houses and have said that instead of Northam's list, they will look at toughening penalties for violating existing gun laws and address mental health issues that contribute to gun violence.

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