RICHMOND, Va. – Following yesterday’s party-line vote against banning guns from the gallery of the House chamber during session, the Virginia House Democratic Caucus today held a press conference to discuss several of our gun safety legislative priorities.
Delegate Rip Sullivan opened the press conference by expressing the overall need for gun safety measures.
“We are here today as Democrats to speak out against gun violence and suggest real solutions,” Delegate Sullivan said.
He then spoke to his bill, co-patroned with Delegate Chris Hurst, that would allow for a circuit court judge to issue a warrant to remove firearms from a person who poses a substantial risk of injury to himself or others.
“My bill would allow concerned family members and other individuals close to a gun owner, who they believe is a threat to themselves or someone else, to go to their local law enforcement office and request that they seek a risk warrant,” said Delegate Sullivan. “If law enforcement agrees that the person is an immediate risk to themselves or others, the commonwealth's attorney can then go before a judge and ask for a risk warrant to be issued...this is a bill that would save lives.”
Delegate Kathleen Murphy discussed her proposed rule change that would ban guns in the gallery of the House of Delegates from one hour before until one hour after each day’s legislative session, as well as her bill to limit handgun purchases to one per month.
“It would go a long way to ensure the safety of our members on the floor and our visitors in the gallery, because we all know it only takes one angry person to cause real harm,” said Delegate Murphy of her proposed rule change, adding, “It is time that people stood up and demanded an end to the senseless loss of life due to gun violence. It is time to say ‘no more.’”
Delegate Betsy Carr introduced several pieces of legislation this year, including a bill to ban bumpstocks and another to ban high-capacity magazines.
“My constituents had made it clear to me that reducing gun violence in our communities is a top priority,” said Delegate Carr, who added that her bills were “all part of a bigger picture, making our communities safer, by getting rid of gun violence, which is such a epidemic here in Virginia.”
Delegate Roslyn Tyler spoke on a bill that she co-patroned with Delegate Ken Plum that would have required universal background checks. The legislation was killed in a party-line vote in a Republican-controlled subcommittee last week.
“Background checks are perfectly reasonable and immensely popular. This isn’t even an 80% issue; this is a 90% issue,” she said, citing a recent poll showing broad public support for background checks. “It seems the only people that don’t support this measure are those that get checks with letters N, R and A in their campaign accounts.”
Delegate John Bell discussed his bill that would have required an in-person demonstration of competence in order to obtain a conceal-carry permit. The bill would remove the option that competence could be demonstrated through completing a video or online course.
“This bill is common-sense,” Delegate Bell said of his legislation, which was killed in a party-line vote last week. “Today you can get a concealed carry permit through online training or video training; the video training is severely inadequate.”
Delegate Bell, who served 26 years in the United States Air Force, described the importance of in-person training to understanding how to safely operate a firearm. “I believe in the second amendment, I am gun owner, and I believe that every gun owner should have a background check and the proper training.”
Delegate Delores McQuinn spoke on her bill that would allow localities to ban guns from public libraries.
“Many children and parents and students attend libraries for a safe and welcoming environment – to read, learn, study and research without feeling threatened by weapons that they cannot defend themselves from. Libraries should perpetuate a family-friendly environment. Guns in libraries are distracting and leave patrons who frequent those facilities defenseless.”
House Democrats have filed many other gun safety bills this session, including a proposal from Delegate Mark Levine that would prohibit those with domestic violence convictions from possessing a firearm.
For video of the press conference, please visit our YouTube page HERE.