Gov. Ralph Northam, shown with Attorney General Mark Herring and Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran, far right, in 2019. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)
After several roundtables around the state, Gov. Ralph Northam’s legislative package for the special session to address gun violence remains mostly unchanged from the plans he laid out just over a month ago.
After a shooting in Virginia Beach left 12 dead and four injured, Northam called the legislature back to Richmond to tackle gun reform. Most of the legislation he referenced in the days following the shooting were proposals that failed during the regular session earlier this year.
Wednesday afternoon, he announced eight bills he would support when the session starts on Tuesday. His legislative package includes:
- Universal background checks
- A ban on “dangerous” weapons, including high-capacity magazines, suppressors and bump stocks
- Reinstating Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month rule
- Requiring reporting lost and stolen firearms within 24 hours
- An extreme risk protection, or red flag, law
- Tougher penalties for allowing children under 18 to access to loaded firearms
- Allowing municipalities to “enact any firearms ordinances that are stricter than state law”
- Prohibiting anyone subject to a protective order from possessing firearms
The only new proposal from Northam on the list is the last one.
Right now, only subjects of “family abuse” protective orders are prohibited from possessing firearms. Northam’s proposal is to block all subjects of protective orders from possession firearms, which can include people accused of stalking, harassment and other non-physical intimidation or violence.
It’s unclear how that could be received by Republicans, who have said they’re prepared to come to session and discuss mandatory minimum sentences and mental health. That includes a bill that failed during the regular session that would have imposed a mandatory minimum sentence for people who commit a second act of domestic violence.
Northam vetoed the bill, saying he would reject any mandatory minimum sentence proposal to the end of his term because the practice disproportionately hurts people of color.
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