From the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence:
Virginia Prioritizes Gun Violence Prevention During 2021 General Assembly
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence applauds the passage of legislation that will address the gun violence epidemic by strengthening public safety regulations, eliminating armed intimidation
RICHMOND — Following the formal closure of the Virginia 2021 General Assembly, several bills dedicated to preventing gun violence passed both chambers and most are awaiting Gov. Northam’s signature to officially be put into law. Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Virginia State Director Lori Haas issued the following reflection on this year’s legislative session:
“The 2021 General Assembly saw numerous bills pass to keep Virginians safe. Protecting our right to vote and gather at the Virginia capitol free from armed intimidation reflects the priorities of Virginia voters. Virginians do not want to see armed gunmen parading about in these public spaces interfering in the political process. Additionally, prohibiting domestic abusers from possessing firearms will protect victims from a known risk of injury and death.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is particularly proud of the following bills passed this session:
- HB1992 will prohibit firearm possession by persons convicted of certain domestic violence misdemeanors. A woman is five times more likely to be murdered when her abuser has access to a gun. Although altered from its original version, this bill will ultimately save lives.
- HB2081 will prohibit any person possessing a firearm within 40 feet of a polling place or an election board while the results of an election are being ascertained or recounted. When signed into law, this measure would protect an essential function of democracy and allow people to exercise their constitutional rights free of intimidation or fear.
- HB2295 /SB1381 will ban any guns at the Virginia Capitol, including the grounds, and at most state buildings. We know particularly well after the armed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 that we cannot allow firearms to be used for armed intimidation or in response to political disagreements.
- HB2128 will increase the time given to Virginia State Police to complete a background check on firearms sales from three to five days before a seller may sell a firearm without a completed background check. Allowing for a more adequate time frame will make it easier to transfer a firearm temporarily to reduce suicide risk and save lives. Access to a gun in the home increases the odds of suicide more than three-fold.
- HB2258 will require the Department of State Police to release de-identified Substantial Risk Order Registry information upon request to research institutions. Data and research to evaluate policies, their effectiveness, and equitable implementation contribute to good governance. Risk-based policies that help to create time and space between an at-risk individual and a firearm are proven to save lives.
- HB1909 will give school boards authority to ban guns on school and administrative building property. Firearms will not make schools more safe, and this bill allows school boards to officially declare their buildings gun-free zones.
Haas added, “We were pleased to see Virginia’s heightened commitment to criminal justice reform during this session. The General Assembly passed the historic abolition of the death penalty, passed the voting rights act to combat voter supression, passed a bill to either seal or expunge criminal records, started on a path to legalizing and regulating marijuana sales, and passed a resolution that brings the Commonwealth closer to ensuring an automatic restoration of voting rights to returning citizens. Marginalized communities suffer disproportionate amounts of gun violence – addressing the systemic effects of generations of racially discriminatory criminal justice practices is the first step towards healthy communities.
“The passage of these pieces of legislation shows Virginia’s commitment to making public health and safety a top priority. CSGV applauds Virginia delegates and senators who listened to their constituents and championed these bills.”