Republican-backed legislation that lifts Virginiaâ€™s 18-year-old restriction on handgun purchases passed the Senate yesterday, over the objections of Senator Barbara A. Favola, who represents the 31st District, stretching from Fort Myer and the Pentagon through Arlington and into Loudoun County.
â€œThis bill eliminates Virginiaâ€™s only practical law that attempts to limit bulk purchasing of handguns for use by traffickers, who buy guns here in Virginia and sell them illegally all over the country,” Favola said. “This legislation affirms our shameful reputation as a gun-running state.â€
â€œThis bill makes it easier for gun traffickers to acquire weapons that will wind up on our streets. This backward-looking bill will be a boon to gun-runners, and threatens to bring more violence to Virginiaâ€™s cities,â€ she said.
â€œSenate bill 323 will open the floodgates to bulk, interstate purchases of handguns. Thatâ€™s why Governor Doug Wilder signed the existing law in 1993. Conservatives are dismantling a key part of Governor Wilderâ€™s legacy, which has kept guns off our streets and our neighborhoods safe for a generation,â€ Favola said.
Opponents of gun regulation, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA) have been having a field day in the Virginia General Assembly this year, passing a blizzard of legislation that limits state and local restrictions on gun ownership and use.
“The General Assembly continues to work at a feverish pace in terms of firearms-related legislation,” the NRA said in an email to its members yesterday. “Today (Monday) the state Senate passed four pro-gun bills and one anti-gun bill, all of which will now be sent to the House of Delegates for its consideration.”
Gun-running on the rise
But Favola says SB 323 goes too far.
â€œDespite what supporters of this bill say, this bill will make it easier for gun-runners to export violence from Virginia,â€ she said.
She said that evidence is mounting that Virginia is already falling into favor again with drug and gun cartels. In December, ten residents of Manassas, Virginia were arrested in a â€œthree-year investigation of interconnected cocaine and firearm distributors.â€ In June, The Virginian-Pilot reported, â€œfive men funneled guns from Virginia’s Eastern Shore to New Jersey and put them in the hands of gang members, murderers and drug dealers.â€
Over the last several years, more than 60 people have been arrested in connection with bulk firearms distributio, Favola said.
The Senate voted 21 to 19 to pass Senate Bill 323, moving the legislation to the House of Delegates, where a similar bill has already passed. Governor Bob McDonnell has indicated his support for this legislation.
Here’s the latest round-up of gun legislation in the legislature, as provided by the NRA:
- Senate Bill 4, sponsored by state Senator Richard Stuart (R-28), would codify a version of the “Castle Doctrine” allowing the use of physical force, including deadly force, by a person in his dwelling against an intruder in the dwelling who has committed an overt act against him or another person in the dwelling, without civil liability. SB 4 passed by a 23 to 17 vote.
- Senate Bill 67, sponsored by state Senator Bill Stanley (R-20), would remove the option for a locality to require an applicant for a concealed handgun permit to submit fingerprints with the application. SB 67 passed by a 26 to 14. vote.
- Senate Bill 429, sponsored by state Senator Frank Ruff (R-15), would provide that the form provided by the State Police to be completed upon the sale of a firearm shall contain only the questions specific to Virginia law. The bill also provides that a copy of the consent form required under federal law for the purposes of running a criminal history record information check upon the purchase of a firearm shall be sent to the State Police by the dealer. SB 429 passed by a 36 to 4 vote.
- Senate Bill 554, sponsored by state Senator Barbara Favola (D-31), would create a Class 1 misdemeanor for the transportation or possession of firearms within the residence of the alleged victim by persons subject to emergency protective orders issued as a result of an assault and battery against a family or household member. SB 554 was passed by a 29 to 11 vote.
- Senate Bill 563, sponsored by state Senator Frank Ruff (R-15), would alter certain application procedures to obtain a concealed handgun permit, including allowing for the submission of an initial application via U.S. mail. This bill would also restrict the clerk and the circuit court from requesting or requiring any information from an applicant other than that which is allowed on the concealed handgun permit application. SB 563 passed by a 32 to 8 vote.
- House Bill 25, sponsored by Delegate Mark Cole (R-88), seeks to prohibit the clerk of the court from disclosing information contained on a concealed handgun permit application or on an order issuing a concealed handgun permit.
- House Bill 754, sponsored by Delegate Ben Cline (R-24), would remove the option for a locality to require that an applicant for a concealed handgun permit submit fingerprints as part of the application.
- House Bill 929, sponsored by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-31), would provide an exemption for former attorneys for the Commonwealth and former assistant attorneys for the Commonwealth from the requirement to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
- House Bill 952, sponsored by Delegate Rob Bell (R-58), would allow a Department of Corrections correctional officer to carry a concealed handgun without a concealed handgun permit. HB 952 was tabled.
- House Bill 592, sponsored by Delegate Don Merricks (R-16), would provide an exemption from Virginia-specific criminal history record information checks upon the purchase of firearms from licensed dealers when the purchaser is a Virginia resident holding a valid Virginia-issued concealed handgun permit. HB 592 was carried over for the year.