After a 6-year-old student was accused of shooting his teacher in Newport News, Va., lawmakers in the Virginia Senate on Monday advanced a bill that would strengthen the rules for people who keep guns in their homes.
After a 6-year student was accused of shooting his teacher in newport news, Virginia, lawmakers in the Virginia Senate advanced a bill on Monday that would strengthen the rules for people who keep guns in their homes.
Under legislationadults will need to store their guns “in a locked container, compartment or closet” if there is anyone under 18 in the home.
Ammunition must be “in a separate locked container, compartment or cabinet” and the key or combination of containers must be “not accessible to minors.”
Violators can be charged with a misdemeanor for each weapon not in a locked container.
“Kids are bringing firearms into schools,” said Lori Haas of the Coalition to End Gun Violence. “If you choose to own a firearm and have it in a home with children, please lock it up.”
The bill was passed by a 9-6 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee: Democrats supported, Republicans opposed.
“We need to be adults and protect our children from harming themselves or others,” said the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Senator Jennifer Boyska.
Those who oppose the bill have pointed to cases where teenagers have used guns to defend themselves or stop home invasions when no adults were around.
“We have a lot of teenagers who were raised around firearms,” said Philip Van Cleve, who heads the Virginia Citizens Defense League. “They have been trained to handle them safely.”
Van Cleve argued that it was “impractical” to lock the ammunition.
“I have thousands of rounds,” Van Cleve said. “That would require a huge closet.”
While it could pass the Senate, the measure faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates, whose leaders have said they will tackle gun violence this year by improving the mental health system, increasing funding for law enforcement and toughening penalties for criminals.
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