RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam has announced his legislative agenda for the July 9 special session of the General Assembly. The special session is intended to address the gun violence emergency in Virginia.
“We continue to lose too many lives to senseless and preventable acts of gun violence, but we have the power to make meaningful change,” said Governor Northam. “Now is the time to act—Virginians deserve votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers. I urge the members of the General Assembly to engage in a thorough, meaningful discussion about these proposed bills and to allow every member to cast their votes on the floor.”
In 2017, there were 1,028 lives lost due to gun violence in Virginia, and this number rose in 2018. Today, he announced a package of eight bills that will be debated at the special session. The proposed package includes:
- Legislation requiring background checks on all firearms sales and transactions. The bill mandates that any person selling, renting, trading, or transferring a firearm must first obtain the results of a background check before completing the transaction.
- Legislation banning dangerous weapons. This will include bans on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, bump stocks and silencers.
- Legislation to reinstate Virginia’s successful law allowing only one handgun purchase within a 30-day period.
- Legislation requiring that lost and stolen firearms be reported to law enforcement within 24 hours.
- Legislation creating an Extreme Risk Protective Order, allowing law enforcement and the courts to temporarily separate a person from firearms if the person exhibits dangerous behavior that presents an immediate threat to self or others.
- Legislation prohibiting all individuals subject to final protective orders from possessing firearms. The bill expands Virginia law which currently prohibits individuals subject to final protective orders of family abuse from possessing firearms.
- Legislation enhancing the punishment for allowing access to loaded, unsecured firearm by a child from a Class 3 Misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony. The bill also raises the age of the child from 14 to 18.
- Legislation enabling localities to enact any firearms ordinances that are stricter than state law. This includes regulating firearms in municipal buildings, libraries and at permitted events.
Gun violence is both a public safety and public health crisis in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Over the last few weeks, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian J. Moran and Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey have led roundtable conversations across Virginia to engage with community leaders and the public on the issue of gun violence.
The special session will begin on July 9. The General Assembly will adopt procedures and rules and set the agenda for the special session.