A pro-Second Amendment rally taking place in Virginia’s capital this week is expected to draw tens of thousands of protesters, all gathering in Richmond to express their opposition to a slate of controversial gun control bills pushed through by the Democrat-majority state congress and backed by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam. Ahead of the rally, Northam declared an emergency weapons ban at the state capitol and law enforcement has gone on high alert, the FBI already making some arrests.
After four out of five Democrat-sponsored gun control bills easily passed the Democrat-controlled Virginia General Assembly last Monday, three of the four bills passed in the Virginia Senate Thursday. The three bills that made it through include a law that will allow local authorities to ban weapons from public spaces during some events, another that limits handgun purchases to one a month, and a law requiring background checks for all firearm purchases,
The bill banning firearms in public spaces and bill limiting handgun purchases passed in the Senate by a razor-thin majority entirely along party lines (21-19), while the background check bill Gainesvilles two Republican votes. Below are descriptions of the three bills via Richmond’s WTKR:
- Senate Bill 35: Authorizes any locality to prohibit the possession of firearms and ammunition in public spaces during permitted events or events that would otherwise require a permit. Introduced by Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Mount Vernon.
- SB 69: Prohibits anyone who is not a licensed firearms dealer from purchasing more than one handgun within a 30-day period, making the offense a Class 1 misdemeanor. Exempts those with valid Virginia concealed handgun permits and those replacing a lost or stolen handgun, as well as law enforcement agencies, state and local correctional facilities, private security companies and those with special circumstances with a background check from Virginia State Police. Also exempts purchases made during a private sale for a personal collection of rare or historical items. Introduced by Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton.
- SB 70: Requires background checks for any firearm transfer and directs State Police to set up a process for obtaining such a check from a licensed firearms dealer. Anyone who sells a firearm without a background check is guilty of a Class 6 felony, and the person who receives the firearm is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Exempts transfers between immediate family members and by estate administrators, as well as transfers during lawful activities at shooting ranges or similar spaces designed for target practice. It also exempts temporary transfers that occur while the owner is present or are necessary to prevent death or bodily harm. Additionally, it allows transfers of antique firearms, transfers that are part of a buy-back or give-back program and those that occur by operation of law. Introduced by Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth.
One Republican senator, Sen. Amanda Chase (Chesterfield) summarized Second Amendment advocates’ argument against the bills, particularly SB 35, saying during the debate last week, “The good guys won’t have the guns. They won’t be able to protect themselves, and we’re basically creating a disastrous situation in which criminals will not follow the law, and it will only hurt and create victims.”
A “red flag” law allowing authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from those deemed a risk to themselves or others passed in the Assembly but stalled in the Senate, while a bill expanding the definition of “assault firearms” in state law and banning their possession as well as prohibiting “the selling or transfer of any firearm magazine with the capacity for more than 10 rounds of ammunition,” failed to make it to the Senate.