Virginia, once a solid red state has been getting progressively more purple in recent election cycles. Democrat Ralph Northam had campaigned for governor on stricter gun control laws and after defeating Ed Gillespie, he chose Friday afternoon to announce his proposal for a comprehensive list of restrictions on Second Amendment rights — what he calls “gun safety” measures — in the Old Dominion.
“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,” said Northam, a physician. He said the state had 1,028 deaths from firearms last year, more than half of them suicides, compared with 956 deaths from highway accidents.
The GOP’s hold on both houses of the state legislature is razor thin.
Republicans still hold a 51-49 edge in the House and a 21-19 advantage in the Senate, but every seat is up for election in the fall and Democrats hope to build on recent gains to take control of one or both chambers.
This morning I announced a broad package of reasonable legislation to prevent gun violence and improve Virginia’s public safety. I look forward to having a dialogue with the General Assembly this session on these important issues. pic.twitter.com/g8qapNqqbe
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) January 4, 2019
What exactly is Northam proposing? Hold onto your hat.
– The “Extreme Risk Protective Order,” sponsored by Del. Rip Sullivan and Sen. George Barker, which would allow a court to temporarily prohibit someone from access to their firearms if the person has been found to pose a danger to themselves or others. In response to concerns raised by Republicans last year that such power could be misused, the proposal specifies that any removal order would have to be brought by law enforcement and approved by a judge or magistrate.
– A bill requiring background checks on all gun sales, including private sales at gun shows or online. The measure is sponsored by Del. Ken Plum and Sen. Louise Lucas.
– A revival of Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month law, which had been in effect for nearly 20 years when it was repealed in 2012. Sponsored by Del. Jeion Ward and Sen. Mamie Locke, the measure would “prevent people from stockpiling firearms and transporting them for sale in other states,” Northam’s office said.
Other measures would keep guns out of the hands of someone under a protective court order; require gun owners to report the loss or theft of a firearm within 24 hours; and increase the penalty for leaving firearms unsecured near children.
Del. Kathy Tran and Sen. Adam Ebbin are also sponsoring a ban on assault weapons, defining them as any firearm with a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition.