Home Youngkin vetoes 30 gun safety bills; defends Virginians right ‘to keep and bear arms’
Politics, Virginia

Youngkin vetoes 30 gun safety bills; defends Virginians right ‘to keep and bear arms’

Crystal Graham
glenn youngkin
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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin vetoed 30 gun-violence prevention bills this week that were approved by the General Assembly and sent to his desk for approval.

A news release sent from Youngkin’s office said he amended six bills and signed four bills making it harder for criminals to use guns in the commission of a violent act.

“I swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of Virginia, and that absolutely includes protecting the right of law-abiding Virginians to keep and bear arms,” said Youngkin. “I am pleased to sign four public safety bills which are commonsense reforms with significant bipartisan support from the General Assembly and offer recommendations to several bills which, if adopted, will make it harder for criminals to use guns in the commission of a violent act.”

The bills that were vetoed would have banned assault weapons, required firearms to be stored in a locked container when a minor is in the home and ensured access to justice for victims harmed by the negligent business practices of industry dealers and manufacturers.

“As a Virginian, I am appalled that Governor Youngkin has such a disregard for our health and safety that he would veto these evidence-based, proven life-saving measures,” said Kris Brown, president of Brady, a group united against gun violence. “The bills he has killed would have, without question, saved lives and had the potential to bring us closer to a future free from gun violence.”

The Virginia chapters of Brady and Team ENOUGH youth volunteers advocated to get these bills passed.

“Virginia deserves better than a governor who would put the will of the gun industry above the well-being of the people he serves,” Brown said. “It is devastating that this momentum was killed on Youngkin’s desk, but our resolve to end gun violence is not.

“Youngkin won’t be in the Governor’s Mansion forever, but we will always be committed to fighting for common-sense legislation until we end this epidemic once and for all.”

Two measures signed into law

While Youngkin vetoed many gun-safety bills, two measures were signed into law including:

  • HB 36 and SB 44 – Ensures community safety by preventing parents from willfully allowing a child who poses a credible threat of violence to access a firearm.
  • HB 22 and SB 210 – Prohibits the manufacture, transfer, or possession of an auto sear, an illegal device which converts firearms into an automatic weapon.

“It speaks volumes about the changing political calculus around gun safety that the Republican governor of Virginia, which is the longtime home of the NRA, just signed legislation to prevent gun violence,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We applaud Governor Youngkin and the bipartisan group of lawmakers who championed these laws, and we urge them to keep listening to voter demands for common-sense solutions to gun violence.”

Still on the table

Youngkin also proposed amendments to several bills that have been sent back to the Virginia General Assembly for consideration.

The bills with potential amendments include:

  • a prohibition on firearms in any facility that provides mental health or developmental services; amendment focuses on criminals who transfer firearms to a person receiving mental health treatment
  • a prohibition on ghost guns; amendment establishes a knowledge standard for manufacturing, importing, selling, transferring or possessing any plastic firearm and introduces mandatory minimum sentences for the subsequent use of a firearm in the commission of a felony
  • an expansion of the state law that prohibits removing, altering or defacing firearm serial numbers; amendment aligns the bill with federal law and federal definitions for serial numbers
  • a requirement for school boards to notify parents to safely store any firearm present in the household and information regarding the risks associated with improperly stored firearms; amendment directs to the Department of Education to convene a workgroup to create a comprehensive list of parental rights and responsibilities and develop an efficient method for distributing such list to parents

‘We will be back’

Last month, nearly 200 volunteers attended and spoke at a rally urging Governor Youngkin to sign the many gun safety measures sent to his desk.

“Advocates like me across the Commonwealth are grateful to Governor Youngkin for signing these gun safety bills into law. Victories like these are a reminder of the inroads we’ve made in Virginia to change the calculus on gun violence prevention in the Commonwealth,” said Shantell Rock, a volunteer with the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We can all agree that our communities deserve to be safer and that there is a role we can all play in the fight to end the epidemic of gun violence.

“We will be back at the statehouse next year alongside our gun sense champions to continue pushing for stronger gun safety laws that can keep our communities safe.”

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.