VA Governor Signs Red Flag, Background Check Bills Into Law

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has officially signed off on several gun control laws approved by the Democrat-controlled General Assembly, including a “red flag” firearms seizure bill, one-gun-a-month rationing for most Virginians, so-called universal background checks, and more.

“We lose too many Virginians to gun violence, and it is past time we took bold, meaningful action to make our communities safer,” said Northam. “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.”

No, they really won’t, but they will allow the governor and Democrats to proclaim they did “something” when it comes to gun control.

The bills will take effect on July 1st of this year, and we should expect lawsuits to follow soon afterwards.

Northam also used his signing statement to signal that his biggest gun control priority is going to be re-introduced in the next session.

“We cant stop here. We need to keep working on this issue. It will be year after year,” Northam said on a press call.

Northam has been pushing for a ban on so-called assault weapons and large capacity magazines, but the governor’s preferred gun ban bill was defeated after several Democrat state senators rejected the measure. Unfortunately, none of them expressed opposition to the idea of a gun ban in general, just with the specifics of the proposal, and anti-gun groups and lawmakers are expected to lobby those lawmakers in the coming months with the hopes of getting their support for a revised bill that will likely be introduced in the fall.

In all, Northam signed five pieces of gun control legislation into law on Friday.

  • Senate Bill 70 and House Bill 2 require background checks on all firearm sales in Virginia
  • Senate Bill 240 and House Bill 674 establishes an Extreme Risk Protective Order
  • Senate Bill 69 and House Bill 812 reinstates Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month rule, with an exception for those who possess a valid concealed carry license.
  • House Bill 9 requires gun owners to report their lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement within 48 hours or face a civil penalty.
  • House Bill 1083 increases the penalty for recklessly leaving firearms in the presence of a minor under the age of 14.

The governor is also proposing amendments to two other gun control bills that passed the legislature.

  • Senate Bill 35 and House Bill 421, which weakens the state’s firearm preemption law, allows localities to regulate firearms in public buildings, parks, recreation centers, and during permitted events. Northam’s proposed amendment would specify that institutions of higher education are also included.
  • Senate Bill 479 and House Bill 1004 prohibit individuals subject to protective orders from possessing firearms, require them to turn over their firearms within 24 hours, and certify to the court that they have turned over their weapons. Northam’s amendment would allow judges to hold individuals in contempt of court if they fail to comply with the court order.

Again, we can expect lawsuits challenging most, if not all, of the governor’s new gun control laws, but those lawsuits will likely have to wait until July 1st, when the laws take effect, in order for individuals to have standing to sue. Before the laws even take effect, however, we’re also likely to see some type of response from the more than 100 counties and cities that have declared themselves to be Second Amendment Sanctuaries across the state.