Gov. Northam signs gun control bills into law

Courtesy: WHSV
Courtesy: WHSV(WHSV)
Published: Apr. 10, 2020 at 10:59 AM EDT
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The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic does not change legislative calendars, and this coming weekend still marks the deadline for Governor Ralph Northam to take action on any bills passed in the General Assembly, which adjourned just last month, before sweeping changes due to COVID-19 took hold in Virginia.

On Friday, Gov. Northam announced that he signed a range of gun control bills, many of which passed in the final days of the General Assembly session in March, into law.

Two, however, he amended and sent back to legislators for consideration


The laws signed by Northam include ones to enact an Extreme Risk Protective Order, require background checks on all gun sales, mandate reporting of lost and stolen firearms, increase the penalty for leaving firearms within the access of children, and reinstate Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month policy.

“We lose too many Virginians to gun violence, and it is past time we took bold, meaningful action to make our communities safer,” said Governor Northam in a statement. “I was proud to work with legislators and advocates on these measures, and I am proud to sign them into law. These commonsense laws will save lives.”

The bills signed by the governor on Friday are:

and House Bill 2, which establish universal background checks in Virginia

and House Bill 674, which establish an Extreme Risk Protective Order, allowing authorities to temporarily take guns away from people deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others

and House Bill 812, which reinstate Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month law

, which requires gun owners to report their lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement within 48 hours or face a civil penalty.

, which toughens the penalty for leaving a loaded, unsecured firearm in a reckless manner that endangers a child

Northam proposed amendments for other bills without signing them into law, including:

and House Bill 421, which give local governments more authority to ban guns in public spaces, like public buildings, parks, recreation centers, and during permitted events

--- The governor requested amendments clarifying the exemption included in the bill for institutions of higher education

and House Bill 1004, which bar people with protective orders against them from possessing firearms and require them to turn over their guns within 24 hours

--- The governor requested amendments recommended by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance to allow judges to hold the person in contempt of court if they fail to comply

A bill to ban the sale of assault weapons, which received the biggest pushback from gun owners,


“In November, Virginians called out loud and clear for meaningful legislation to address gun violence in the Commonwealth. They demanded action and we delivered,” said Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn. “I am grateful to the Governor for his leadership and for signing these bills that will save lives.”

“This is an historic moment in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “These commonsense measures will undoubtedly save lives.”

The governor is joining Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for a call at 11 a.m. on Monday to discuss the new gun laws.

Virginia became the epicenter of the nation's gun debate after Democrats took full control of the General Assembly last year on an aggressive gun control platform. Tens of thousands of gun-rights activists from across the country

and surrounding area in protest near the start of the General Assembly session, some donning tactical gear and carrying military-style rifles, to rally against proposed gun legislation.

Response from House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert:
“To take a victory lap on such a controversial issue at a time when Virginians are buying firearms at a record pace to protect themselves and their families is counterintuitive. "To do so at a time when we need all Virginians unified in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic is counterproductive. It was clear from the moment these bills were introduced that they would impact law-abiding gun owners far more than criminals. It’s an unfortunate last chapter in the story of Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to reshape Virginia.”
Response from Senator Tim Kaine:
“These commonsense reforms are an enormous achievement that will make Virginia communities safer. We have seen the scourge of gun violence in the tragedies of Virginia Tech and Virginia Beach and the all too common shootings in our cities and towns. As elected officials, it’s our responsibility to learn painful lessons and take steps that can help save lives. I’m so proud of the General Assembly’s efforts to pass comprehensive legislation to reduce gun violence. We must build on these efforts at the federal level.”