Youngkin signs gun safe tax credit bill, garners support from both sides of gun debate

Gov. Glenn Youngkin put pen to paper on a new bill making it easier and more affordable to lock up firearms.
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 1:31 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Gov. Glenn Youngkin put pen to paper on a new bill making it easier and more affordable to lock up firearms.

A $300 tax credit will now reimburse anyone who buys a gun safe or lockable gun container.

The mission of this new bill is to reward gun owners for securing their firearms and preventing guns from falling in the wrong hands, whether that be thieves or children.

“When firearms are the number one killer of children in the Commonwealth of Virginia, something must be done,” Coalition to Stop Gun Violence President Lori Haas said. “This is a great first step.”

“It doesn’t force anybody to do anything. It’s up to you,” Virginia Citizens Defense League President Philip Van Cleave said. “If you want to buy a gun safe because you think it would be good to have your guns locked up when you’re not using them, that’s a free choice.”

The legislation got approval from both sides of the aisle during a politically divided General Assembly, which is a rare occurrence.

Both the NRA and gun control advocacy groups have also voiced support.

“It was a surprise,” Van Cleave said. “Delegate Lopez was not somebody that had ever put in a bill that we could support.”

Van Cleave says he hopes the legislation makes an impact, but he doesn’t think it will keep violent criminals from offending.

“Do any of those people honestly believe that a criminal, a violent person, who is gonna go out and murder somebody that night ... you think they’re gonna buy a gun safe, keep the gun nice and safe? No,” he said.

Hass says the bill is crucial when it comes to preventing shootings involving children, both accidental and not.

“We lock up our poisons. We lock up other things,” Haas said. “We understand that children are curious. It is up to us - the adults in the room - to take the measures and take the steps to keep our children safe from firearms.”

Haas says she and other gun control advocates would like to make the safe storage of firearms in the presence of children mandatory, comparing it to the laws in place for car seats.

“They (car seats) were available to the public and the public didn’t use them 100% of the time until they were mandated by law,” she said. “We would like to make safe storage a mandate in the Commonwealth of Virginia like other states have done.”

The $300 tax credit can be claimed on state tax returns starting in the 2024 tax season.

It will only apply to safes and containers purchased from federally licensed firearm dealers.