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VA governor announces plans for new gun laws

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam speaks to attendees at a legislative reception hosted Jan. 18, 2018, by the Virginia National Guard Officer’s Association and Virginia Army and Air National Guard Enlisted Association in Richmond, Virginia. (Cotton Puryear/U.S. National Guard)

Virginia’s governor announced Friday plans for a comprehensive package of legislation to prevent gun violence and improve the safety of Virginia’s citizens and communities.

The package includes measures to require universal background checks; establish an Extreme Risk Protective Order; reinstate Virginia’s One Handgun a Month law; prohibit individuals subject to final protective orders from possessing firearms; ban assault firearms; prevent children from accessing firearms; and require individuals to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement, according to a statement issued by Gov. Ralph Northam.

“We lose too many Virginians each year to senseless gun violence, and it is time we take meaningful steps to protect the health and safety of our citizens,” Northam said. “I look forward to opening a dialogue with the General Assembly on this legislative package of reasonable gun violence reforms, which appropriately balances Second Amendment Rights with public safety.”

The Extreme Risk Protective Order, patroned by Delegate Rip Sullivan, D-48th District and Senator George Barker, D-39th District, creates a legal mechanism to temporarily separate a person from their firearms and prevent them from accessing firearms when the court finds that they pose a substantial danger to themselves or others, Northam said.

“I want to thank Gov. Northam for his commitment to preventing gun violence in the Commonwealth, and for advancing this commonsense legislative package that will undoubtedly enhance public safety and save lives,” Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran stated. “I look forward to working with our partners in the General Assembly on both sides of the aisle to find common ground and pass these reasonable measures.”

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Not all members of the General Assembly supported the package of legislation.

“Let me just say my position has been very clear,” Senator Ben Chaffin, R-Russell, told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. “ I support the Second Amendment which guarantees our right to bear arms without infringement. I will oppose and fight any attempt to restrict our constitutional rights. I will likewise oppose and fight any attempt to violate our due process as guaranteed as guaranteed by the United States and Virginia Constitutions.”

“I can’t tell you how strongly I oppose the effort to adopt laws that will turn lawful owners of firearms into criminals through their possession and their use of their firearms,” Chaffin said. “I do support continuing efforts to address the mental health issues of individuals who may become dangerous and injure others. I certainly support that and I also support the continued effort to educate our youth and our citizens in the safe handling, possession and use of firearms.”

Delegate James W. “Will” Morefield, R-Tazewell, was not available Friday for comment.

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© 2019 the Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, W.Va.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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