Augusta County doubling down on brave stand against common sense

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The Augusta County Board of Supervisors is actually going to waste your money on whether or not it should call for a voluntary muster of the county’s unorganized militia.

This, at the request of a far-right group that packed the board meeting room at the Augusta County Government Center Wednesday night.

The effort, according to one member of the group, would be “the next step in the struggle against tyranny.”

The tyranny: Democrats in Richmond are working on a package of gun-control bills.

Specifically, seven bills, including legislation to implement universal background checks, authorizing extreme risk protection orders, limiting handgun purchases to one per month, compelling gun owners to report lost or stolen guns, protecting children from reckless storage of firearms, disarming domestic abusers, and giving localities the authority to regulate firearms all getting majority support.

The strongest bill in the package is HB 2, which would close the legal loophole that allows unlicensed sellers to sell guns without background checks. The loophole is exploited by people prohibited from possessing firearms, including felons, domestic abusers, and fugitives, allowing them to easily obtain guns. An estimated 80 percent guns used in the commission of crimes are obtained from sources not required to do background checks.

HB 674 would create a process to enable law enforcement officers in these situations to seek a court order, modeled on the domestic violence protective order process. The orders would temporarily remove guns from the person in crisis, preventing suicides and mass shootings, as similar orders are already doing in 17 other states.

Under a similar law in Connecticut, research found that one life was saved for every 10 cases where guns were temporarily removed.

Other laws in the package:

  • HB 812 would reinstitute the one-gun-a-month limit that was state law from 1993 to 2012, when it was made political theater by Republicans in advance of the 2013 state elections. The bill does offer an exception allowing a person to get a special waiver if they go through an enhanced background check.
  • HB 312 would give cities, towns and counties independent authority to tackle gun violence through local laws.
  • HB 9 would require gun owners to report lost or stolen guns to law enforcement. The bill is modeled on laws in 11 states and the District of Columbia.
  • HB 1009 would prohibit people subject to protective orders for family abuse from possessing firearms and call for them to surrender their firearms when the protective order is issued.
  • HB 463 would make it a Class 6 felony to leave a loaded, unsecured firearm accessible to minors. Current state law makes that crime a Class 3 misdemeanor.

A January VCU poll registered 83 percent support statewide for universal background checks, 82 percent support for red-flag laws and also 82 percent for removing guns from the possession of dangerous individuals.

Fifty-seven percent of Virginians back a ban on assault weapons, but the hue and cry from the far right got that legislation pulled.

Anyway, the “next step in the struggle against tyranny” in Augusta County had the Board of Supervisors directing county staff to look into the militia thing with a plan to discuss the idea at its Feb. 24 staff briefing.

And so the brave stand against common sense in Augusta County deepens.

Story by Chris Graham

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