Northam signs gun safety measures into law

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Gov. Ralph Northam today signed several gun violence prevention measures into law, including legislation to enact an Extreme Risk Protective Order, require background checks on all gun sales, mandate reporting of lost and stolen firearms, prevent children from accessing firearms, and reinstate Virginia’s successful one-handgun-a-month policy.

“We lose too many Virginians to gun violence, and it is past time we took bold, meaningful action to make our communities safer,” Northam said. “I was proud to work with legislators and advocates on these measures, and I am proud to sign them into law. These commonsense laws will save lives.”

More than 1,000 Virginians die from gun-related incidents each year. Governor Northam has been a fierce and consistent advocate for gun safety measures in the Commonwealth and following the tragic May 2019 mass shooting in Virginia Beach, he immediately called a special session of the General Assembly to address the gun violence emergency in Virginia.

Northam signed these bills:

  • Senate Bill 70 and House Bill 2 require background checks on all firearm sales in Virginia, which will prevent guns from ending up in dangerous hands.
  • Senate Bill 240 and House Bill 674 establish an Extreme Risk Protective Order, which creates a legal mechanism for law enforcement to temporarily separate a person from their firearms when they represent a danger to themselves or others. Virginia is now among 19 other states and the District of Columbia in enacting this type of law.
  • Senate Bill 69 and House Bill 812 reinstate Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month rule to help curtail stockpiling of firearms and trafficking.
  • House Bill 9 requires gun owners to report their lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement within 48 hours or face a civil penalty.
  • House Bill 1083 prevents children from accessing firearms by increasing the penalty for recklessly leaving firearms in their presence.

In related action, Northam proposed amendments to these bills:

  • Senate Bill 35 and House Bill 421 allow localities to regulate firearms in public buildings, parks, recreation centers, and during permitted events. Amendments clarify the exemption for institutions of higher education.
  • Senate Bill 479 and House Bill 1004 prohibit individuals subject to protective orders from possessing firearms, require them to turn over their firearms within 24 hours, and certify to the court that they have turned over their weapons. Governor Northam amended this legislation at the request of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. This will enhance safety for victims by allowing judges to hold the respondent in contempt of court if they fail to comply with the certification requirements.

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