The much-anticipated Special Session called by Governor Northam to address the challenges of gun violence in the Commonwealth ended abruptly on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, when the House Republicans adjourned until November 18, several weeks after the fall election. Democrats introduced eight common-sense measures designed to address gun safety. These included universal background checks for all gun sales, and a bill to create an Emergency Risk Protective Order (ERPO) designed to remove guns from people who, due to a mental health situation, pose a risk of injury to themselves or others.
I was the designated patron for HB 4009, a bill that would have conformed Virginia’s statute on protective orders to provisions in federal law that prevent individuals subject to such orders from possessing a firearm; we already prohibit people from “owning and transporting” a firearm while subject to a protective order. This bill is similar to one I introduced in 2008, which had the support of a broad cross section of Commonwealth’s Attorneys, sheriffs, and state police. It was defeated in a Republican-led committee when the dominant gun rights group in the Commonwealth, the Virginia Citizens Defense League, testified against it. Similar bills have been introduced in the decade since, but they all have been defeated.
Yesterday, not a single one of the 63 bills filed for special session got a hearing; Republican leadership in both chambers instructed their committees to table most of the measures — including the eight Democratic bills — and simply adjourn until November 18.
Broad Public Support
Republicans claimed that they needed more time to study these bills. That argument made little sense since most of these bills had been introduced in previous sessions. [Read more…]