Universal background check bill fails in Senate committee

Monday morning, after hearing testimony from veterans, anti-gun violence experts, and victims of gun violence, the Senate Committee on Courts of Justice voted to reject SB 520, a bill that would have effectively created universal background checks for gun sales in Virginia.

state-capitol2The vote was 6-9, with all Republicans opposed.

SB520, introduced by Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico), would have imposed criminal penalties on those who avoid the need for a background check by selling or transferring firearms to someone who is not a licensed dealer. Exceptions would have been made for family members and in certain other circumstances.

The measure is overwhelmingly popular, as polls consistently show that 80% to 90% of Americans support mandatory background checks for gun purchasers. A similar law recently passed in Colorado already prevented 122 prohibited gun purchases because of the outcome of a background check.

Of the bill’s failure, Senator McEachin said, “Background checks are the simplest thing that we can do to keep guns away from those who would abuse them. This life-saving reform enjoys overwhelming public support, even among gun owners. I am disappointed that my colleagues chose to reject this common-sense safety measure.”

Democratic Leader Senator Dick Saslaw (D – Fairfax) said, “For years, licensed dealer background checks have kept guns out of the hands of felons and the mentally ill. This bill wouldn’t take away anyone’s gun, or anyone’s legitimate right to own one. Background checks work, and they protect everyone from the potential dangers of gun violence.”



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