Governor Northam signs gun safety legislation

VA Governor Ralph Northam signs several pieces of gun safety legislation into law.
VA Governor Ralph Northam signs several pieces of gun safety legislation into law.(Governor's Office)
Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 2:34 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ/Governor’s Office Release) - Governor Ralph Northam Thursday signed gun safety laws in the Commonwealth of Virginia, including new measures to require background checks on all gun sales, establish an Extreme Risk Protective Order, reinstate Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month policy, mandate reporting of lost and stolen firearms, and prevent children from accessing firearms.

Governor Northam signed these bills:

  • Senate Bill 70 and House Bill 2 require background checks on all firearm sales in Virginia.
  • Senate Bill 240 and House Bill 674 establish an Extreme Risk Protective Order, which creates a legal mechanism for law enforcement to temporarily separate a person from his or her guns when they represent a danger to themselves or others.
  • Senate Bill 69 and House Bill 812 reinstate Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month rule to help curtail stockpiling of firearms and trafficking.
  • House Bill 9 requires gun owners to report their lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement within 48 hours or face a civil penalty.
  • House Bill 1083 prevents children from accessing firearms by increasing the penalty for recklessly leaving firearms in their presence.

Governor Northam proposed amendments to these bills:

  • Senate Bill 35 and House Bill 421 allow localities to regulate firearms in public buildings, parks, recreation centers, and during permitted events. The amendments clarify the exemption for institutions of higher education.
  • Senate Bill 479 and House Bill 1004 prohibit people subject to protective orders from possessing firearms, require them to turn over their firearms within 24 hours, and certify to the court that they have turned over their weapons. Governor Northam amended this legislation at the request of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. This is designed to enhance safety for victims by allowing judges to hold the respondent in contempt of court if they fail to comply with the certification requirements.

Thursday’s signing event coincides with the one-year anniversary of the special session Governor Northam called after the May 2019 mass shooting in Virginia Beach.

“Today would not have been possible without many Virginians saying, ‘enough is enough,’” said Governor Northam. “I want to thank all who advocated for commonsense gun safety laws, as well as all of the legislators who listened to them. These laws will save lives.”

Joining Governor Northam were legislators, advocates and families whose loved ones have been injured or killed by gun violence.

Click here to watch the signing ceremony.

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