Domestic violence gun bill halted by Virginia General Assembly

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The Virginia General Assembly has put the brakes on a new bill aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of stalkers and spousal abusers. It’s an emotional issue that pits crime victims against supporters of gun rights.

Lisette Johnson of Midlothian recalls a day in 2009 with horror. Her two children, ages nine and 12, were in the next room when her husband shot her and then shot himself.

“If he had not had a gun, our lives would be entirely different and my children would have their father,” she says.

Today, Johnson is lobbying the General Assembly to pass a bill that would ban anyone convicted of physical domestic abuse of a family member, sexual battery, or stalking, from owning a gun for five years.

The state Senate passed the bill easily, 29-6, but a House committee kicked the bill to the state crime commission for study.

That delay is a victory for opponents of gun restrictions like the Virginia Citizens Defense League. It tracks gun bills on its website and opposes this one because it says it targets people guilty of misdemeanors.

“Misdemeanors are not meant to take away someone’s civil rights because, by definition, they are minor crimes.”

But advocates, like Lisette, are still hoping the bill can be revived.

“I would do anything I could do to spare somebody going through what we’re going through,” she says.


  • Eddy

    I have a question: Did Mrs. Johnson’s husband previously have a conviction of domestic violence? If so, then federal law already prohibits him from owning, possessing, or transporting firearms.(Lautenberg Amendment) How would the new law have helped that situation?
    The VA bill reads as follows:

    “Possession of firearms following conviction of certain crimes; penalty. Prohibits any person who is convicted of stalking, sexual battery, or assault and battery of a family member that results in serious bodily injury from possessing, transporting, or carrying a firearm or any other weapon for a period of five years following his conviction. A violation would constitute a Class 6 felony. The bill also provides for the forfeiture of any weapon possessed, transported, or carried in violation of the prohibition. Finally, the bill provides for a process by which a violator may petition the circuit court for a reinstatement of his rights to possess, transport, or carry a weapon.”

    This is a solution in search of a problem.

  • teebonicus

    What do 10,000 battered women all have in common?

    Not ONE of them knows when to keep her effing mouth shut.


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