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Virginia Senate passes ‘red flag’ gun confiscation bill; advances to House

Crowds gather in opposition to gun control measures proposed by the Virginia state legislature. (Grayson County Sheriffs Office/Facebook)
January 22, 2020

The Virginia state Senate passed a “red flag” gun confiscation bill on Wednesday afternoon – the latest of several gun bills at the helm of the Democratic legislature’s agenda.

After nearly an hour of final debates, state senators passed SB 240 in a vote of 21-19, and will now advance to the House, where it is also expected to pass the Democrat-controlled body.

If passed, authorities would be granted the power to confiscate guns from citizens deemed a danger to themselves or others.

Republican senators had made a final call to their colleagues against the vote, with Sen. Amanda Chase calling the bill’s supporters “traitors” for violating the constitution and constituents’ rights.

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“Each legislator that votes in favor of this bill is, in my opinion, a traitor to Virginia, a traitor to the Second Amendment, and traitor to our constitutional freedoms,” Chase said.

Sen. Mark Obenshain said, “What we’re doing is going to undermine not only the Second Amendment rights but the right to due process of Virginians.”

Democrats in support of the bill insisted the red flag confiscation laws have been successful in 17 other states. They pointed to numerous amendments and said the bill was formed with careful language to protect citizens’ due process and rights.

Sen. George Barker said red flag laws have “reduced the deaths in several states, particularly suicides, and also have been used in several situations of threats of mass shootings.”

“The bill that’s on the floor today is a whole lot more improved in terms of giving the accused person rights to fight back if they feel the order was entered unfairly,” said Sen. Scott Surovell.

The vote took place just two days after an estimated crowd of 22,000 marched in support of gun rights at the Virginia Capitol. The bill is one of several strict gun control bills that Democrats plan to pass, which gun rights demonstrators voiced opposition to on Monday.

Virginia’s Senate already passed three other gun control bills. SB 70, which passed in a 23-17 vote, requires background checks for private sales of firearms and all other transfers of firearms except between family members, estate members, and loans at shooting ranges.

SB 69 also passed in a 21-19 vote and prohibits Virginia residents from purchasing more than one handgun every 30 days, exempting only law enforcement authorities, concealed handgun permit holders, and those involved in private or antique sales.

SB 35 passed in a 21-19 vote and enables local governments with the power to ban firearms on public property during protests and other large-scale events that require a permit.