VA Senate Signs Off On First Gun Control Bills
AP Photo/Steve Helbe

On mostly party line votes, the Virginia state Senate approved four gun control measures on Thursday, sending the bills to the House of Delegates for approval.

SB 35, approved on a party line 21-19 vote, would weaken the state’s firearms preemption laws by allowing cities and counties to impose gun bans at permitted events, as well as allowing localities to ban gun shows on government owned property and in government owned buildings. The legislation also changes state law and will enable localities to sue gun manufacturers.

SB 69, which rations purchases of handguns to one-per-month, also passed on a party line vote. The bill would revive an old law in Virginia that was taken off the books in 2012. Just as with the old law, Virginia concealed carry holders are exempt from the gun rationing scheme, which could have the unintended consequence of swelling the ranks of concealed carry licensees in the state.

SB 70, the so-called “universal background check” bill, actually received a couple of votes from Republican state senators and passed out of the Senate on a 23-17 vote. The bill was modified in committee to only apply to sales of firearms in Virginia, not all transfers, which means you can loan or give a gun to your sister without going through a background check, but if you sell her a firearm from your private collection it would be a crime to do so unless you went through an FFL who conducted a background check. It’s a worthless bill that is largely unenforceable, to be blunt.

SB 240, the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill, was also on the Senate calendar this afternoon, but for some reason the bill was passed by for the day. That’s generally a sign that the bill might not have the necessary votes or that one or more lawmakers in the majority want to amend the bill, but haven’t finalized their language. Whatever the reason, Virginia gun owners should be contacting their state senators and urging them to oppose this bill, which violates the due process rights of Virginians and will do nothing to help those in crisis and in need of mental health treatment.

Gun owners in Virginia should also be contacting their delegates about SB 35, SB 69, and SB 70, which now cross over to the House of Delegates. Interestingly, we haven’t seen any gun bills in the House assigned to committees yet, which is unusual according to several sources familiar with the legislative proceedings. It may be next week before the House takes up its own gun control bills, but we know that they’re still coming.