Gov. Northam announces legislation package to combat gun violence

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RICHMOND, Va. - Governor Ralph Northam announced a comprehensive package of legislation aimed at preventing gun violence in the Commonwealth.

According to a release by Northam's office, the package includes measures such as requiring universal background checks; establishing an Extreme Risk Protective Order; reinstating Virginia’s "One Handgun a Month" law; prohibiting individuals subject to final protective orders from possessing firearms; banning assault firearms; preventing children from accessing firearms; and requiring individuals to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement.

  • The universal background check bill, patroned by Delegate Ken Plum and Senator Louise Lucas, will require background checks on all firearm sales, including private and online sales.
  • The Extreme Risk Protective Order creates a legal mechanism to temporarily separate a person from their firearms and prevent them from accessing firearms after a court finds that they pose a substantial danger to themselves or others.
  • Prior to its 2012 repeal, Virginia's "One Handgun a Month" law did as its name suggests for almost 20 years. According to Northam's office, Virginia is consistently identified as a source state for crime guns recovered in other states, and the law will help prevent stockpiling and illegal sale of firearms.
  • The protective order bill prevents any person subject to a final order of protection from purchasing, possessing or transporting firearms, and requires them to turn over their firearms within 24 hours.
  • Legislation banning the sale, purchase, possession and transport of assault firearms in the Commonwealth will also modify the definition of "assault firearm" to any firearm equipped with a magazine holding more than 10 rounds.
  • The child access prevention bill will increase the penalty for leaving a loaded, unsecured firearm around a child, and raises the age of a child in existing law from 14 to 18.
  • The lost and stolen firearm bill requires any person who loses or has a firearm stolen from their possession to report the loss or theft within 24 hours of discovery.

"We lose too many Virginians each year to senseless gun violence, and it is time we take meaningful steps to protect the health and safety of our citizens," Northam said in a statement. "I look forward to opening a dialogue with the General Assembly on this legislative package of reasonable gun reforms, which appropriately balances Second Amendment rights with public safety."

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