Ban on guns in Capitol Square continues to advance in the General Assembly
RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - A permanent ban on guns at the State Capitol is closer to becoming law, but not without objections from Republicans who say it is stifling Virginians’ First and Second Amendment rights.
Friday, a House Committee approved a Senate bill that would prohibit firearms and other weapons in Capitol Square.
But for years, open carry was the order of the day for gun rights advocates visiting lawmakers.
“Every session for years, the Second Amendment rights people have had the opportunity to come down and address their delegates and senators, make speeches right there at the Bell Tower on the capitol grounds,” said Del. Tommy Wright (R-Lunenburg Co.). “There’s never been an incident that I know of.”
“I find it concerning that literally we are passing a bill because we are afraid or some people happen to be afraid of the VCDL (Virginia Citizens Defense League) Lobby Day,” said Del. Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach).
Republicans questioned whether Democrats were legislating against a single group, but Democrats on the House Public Safety Committee said the presence of armed demonstrators left many fearing for their safety.
“So this is not just about us, but it’s also about the people this space belongs to,” said Del. Candi King (D-Prince William Co.). “And they should be able to come here without fear of weapons.”
“You can’t carry guns in a courthouse. You can’t carry guns on airplanes. You can’t carry guns in the U.S. Capitol,” added Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington). “And starting in July, it’s going to be the law that you can’t carry guns on Capitol Square.”
Both the House of Delegates and State Senate have passed similar measures, and Governor Ralph Northam is expected to sign the legislation when it reaches his desk.
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