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Delegate Sullivan’s “Red Flag” Bill Passes Virginia House of Delegates

January 30, 2020

Media Contact:
Kate Petersen
(571) 210-5876

RICHMOND, Va. – Delegate Rip Sullivan’s bill, HB 674, to create substantial risk orders in the Commonwealth today passed the Virginia House of Delegates. If passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor, this bill will be a substantial step in the right direction in the effort to curb gun violence in our communities.

“Every death caused by gun violence is a tragedy – what is also heartbreaking is that many of these deaths are preventable. This bill is similar to legislation passed in 17 other states and the District of Columbia and would enable law enforcement to stop gun violence before a single shot is fired,” said Delegate Sullivan. “We have all heard the saying, ‘if you see something, say something,’ but in Virginia, law enforcement does not currently have the tools it needs to ‘do something’ if someone close to the person who is clearly at risk of harming himself or others reports the issue.”

“A study by the Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center found in a study of mass shootings in the U.S. that ‘[n]early all of the attackers engaged in prior threatening or concerning communications,’ and in many instances family members and friends contacted police to share their concerns but no action could legally be taken[1]. HB 674 will help avert these devastating mass shootings and keep us safer.”

“This is also as much an effort to prevent suicides by firearm, which constitute nearly two-thirds of gun-related deaths in Virginia as it is an effort to prevent homicides and mass shootings[2]. If a mother, for example, knows that her child is suicidal and owns a firearm, she will be able to remove this deadly weapon from his or her home. Studies show that suicide-by-firearm rates drop substantially in states with ‘Red Flag’ laws, and it is long overdue that Virginia lawmakers take action on this epidemic[3].”

“I have worked closely over the last several years with stakeholders to guarantee that this bill includes extensive due process and respect for the Second Amendment while ensuring that Virginians will finally be able to make a meaningful difference in the fight to stop the ongoing gun violence crisis,” he concluded.

HB 674 will create a judicial process through which law enforcement can petition a judge to prohibit individuals deemed at substantial risk of harming themselves or others from purchasing, possessing, or transporting firearms. Laws like this are often referred to as "Red Flag" laws, Gun Violence Restraining Orders, or Extreme Risk Protective Orders.

The text of HB 674 can be accessed here.