Richmond, Virginia (WRIC) – Democrats used the power of the majority in the Virginia Senate to kill several Republican bills aimed at lifting gun restrictions passed over the past two years.
When the party gained full control of the General Assembly, Democrats passed a “red flag” law that allows authorities to temporarily confiscate firearms from owners who are considered dangerous or may pose a threat to themselves or others.
Measures have also been signed that allow local authorities to ban firearms at certain events and in certain areas and oblige gun owners to report lost or stolen weapons within 48 hours.
Efforts to repeal the laws have advanced through the Republican-controlled House of Delegates in party elections this year, but Democrats on the Senate Legal Committee voted for them Monday.
“Who among us is an expert in reading someone’s thoughts, that we can predict who will commit a crime before he commits it, and how can we prove that the crime was prevented when the crime did not actually happen,” – Del Marie March (R. – Floyd) said while presenting her bill to repeal the Red Flag Act. “We are depriving people of their freedom and property for those accused of mental crimes.”
Members of the Virginia League of Guards (VCDL), an arms rights advocacy group, have spoken out in support of the March bill, arguing that the current law does not help those with mental health problems who need help.
A spokesman for the Coalition to End Violence with Weapons said the law “works” and that Virginia police say the policy is being used “wisely.”
The March legislation was passed for an indefinite period, which effectively abolishes this measure, by 9-6 votes on the guerrilla line.
Measure Dell. Tony Wilta (R-Rockingham) on repealing a law that gives local communities the power to ban guns in some buildings and during events also rejected by the board during Monday’s 9-6 vote. Del. Wilt told the committee that his bill would not affect the ban on firearms in court buildings and would still allow local communities to ban guns in local government buildings.
State Sen. Joe Morrissey (D. Richmond) called Wilt’s bill the “antithesis” of the idea that local authorities know what’s best for their districts and should make those decisions.
“We are tasked to monitor broader issues to achieve, I can say, harmony, equality in all areas, settlements of the state. That we do not expose all our citizens to potential harm by making them criminals by simply crossing the country, ”Wilt said.
VCDL President Philip Van Cleve has also spoken out in support of the Wilt bill, arguing that current policies create problems for gun owners who may not be aware of some local activities where guns are banned.
Legislation from Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) it would remove the requirement for the gun owner to report lost or stolen weapons to local authorities or the state police to receive one vote from the Democratic Party – from State Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City) – but still unable to get through the committee.