Senate Committee considers gun bills

Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 7:23 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Gun rights advocates and supporters of gun control squared off Monday in Richmond.

The Senate Judiciary Committee considered more than a dozen bills, including a ban on assault weapons, and two measures that received attention following recent gun violence here in Virginia.

Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax) began working on Senate Bill 1139 long before a six year-old student shot a teacher at a Newport News Elementary School earlier this month.

But speakers said the incident shows the need for legislation that would require secure storage of a firearm in a home where a minor is present.

Lori Haas is the Virginia Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

“These are deadly weapons. We aren’t saying don’t own them. We’re saying store them responsibly and safely,” Haas told lawmakers.

Philip Van Cleave is President of the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

“One size doesn’t fit all. We have plenty of teenagers out there who have been raised around firearms and have been taught to safely handle them. And there have been cases where somebody under 18 has stopped home invasions with a firearm,” Van Cleave said during the hearing.

Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath Co.) introduced Senate Bill 1484 in response to the shooting last November in Charlottesville, in which three members of the UVA football team were killed.

His legislation would modify the law prohibiting guns in state-owned buildings, by limiting an exemption for public colleges and universities.

The committee approved another bill from Deeds that would prohibit the purchase, possession, sale or transfer of an assault firearm manufactured after July 1, 2023.

The committee turned back Republican bills that would have repealed gun control measures such as the law authorizing local governments to prohibit guns in public buildings and other public spaces.

The Democratic measures approved Monday may face the same fate when they reach the Republican majority in the House of Delegates.