Warner, Kaine going national with Virginia gun control strategy

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The Virginia approach to gun violence is going national with a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate by Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

The Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence Act of 2020 is based on the gun violence prevention measures adopted by Virginia earlier this year.

Included in the bill are measures to remove firearms from those at risk of harming themselves or others, close current background check loopholes, mandate reporting of lost and stolen firearms, prevent children from accessing firearms, and implement a one-handgun-a-month policy.

“Too many communities across the Commonwealth have been affected by gun violence. That’s why earlier this month, Virginia led the charge by adopting reasonable measures to help prevent future tragedies. Now it’s time for Congress to act,” said Warner, who faces a re-election battle this fall. “Today, we are introducing a commonsense approach to help make our communities safer by helping to keep guns out of the wrong hands while still respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. We owe it to victims and their families to stop talking about the problem and start doing something to address it and this bill is an important step in that direction.”

“We have seen the scourge of gun violence in the tragedies of Virginia Tech and Virginia Beach, drive-by shootings, domestic violence, the hundreds of suicides by firearm every week, and other crime in cities and towns across our country,” Kaine said. “For too long, Congress has remained a bystander while states like Virginia have taken action. While no single piece of legislation can eradicate gun violence, as elected officials we have a responsibility to act. We must learn painful lessons from these horrific events and follow the Commonwealth’s example to take commonsense steps that can help save lives.”

Now, it does need to be mentioned here that the commonsense steps taken in Virginia didn’t come without controversy.

Localities across the Commonwealth, from rural areas in the south, central and west to the Hampton Roads region, adopted resolutions declaring themselves to be Second Amendment sanctuaries, vowing not to enforce the new measures within their borders.

Gun rights groups took over Capitol Square one day in January, and though there was no violence, the message seemed to have been received, as Democrats who had been pushing for more stringent measures, among other things, an assault weapons ban, largely backed down, in favor of adopting a more center-pleasing gun control package.

Even that didn’t satisfy local voters in Staunton, who elected an all-Republican slate in a major upset in the May city elections, overturning several cycles of Democratic rule in the process.

As mentioned above, Warner faces re-election in November, the challenge coming from Daniel Gade, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who has declared himself “pro-Second Amendment, and unabashedly so.”

Details: Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence Act of 2020

  • Universal Background Checks: Closes loopholes in existing federal law by requiring background checks on all firearm sales and transfers, with exemptions for certain family members, law enforcement officers, servicemembers, hunting, target shooting, and self-defense.
  • Extreme Risk Protection Orders: Establishes a federal extreme risk protection order process to temporarily remove firearms from individuals who pose a high risk of harming themselves or others, incentivizes states to implement their own extreme risk protection laws and court protocols.
  • One-Handgun-a-Month: Limits purchases of handguns to one per month to curtail firearm stockpiling and trafficking.
  • Reporting of Lost or Stolen Firearms: Requires gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms to the appropriate state or local law enforcement agency within 48 hours. State and local law enforcement agencies would be directed to report data collected to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center.
  • Preventing Firearm Access to Minors: Promotes responsible gun ownership and safe storage practices by holding individuals liable for recklessly leaving a loaded, unsecured gun in the presence of a minor.
  • Protection Order Prohibitions: Bolsters safeguards for victims of domestic violence by closing the “boyfriend loophole,” expanding firearms laws to prohibit persons convicted of dating violence from possessing firearms, and prohibiting persons convicted of stalking from possessing firearms.

You can view the full bill text here.

Story by Chris Graham


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