VA Passes Bill Barring Some Convicted of Misdemeanors From Having Guns

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The rules used to be simple. If you had a felony conviction, you couldn’t buy a gun. This was consistent with the way we treated felons in general, too, since they also couldn’t vote. They were almost non-citizens in many ways.

Then people started trying to expand the list of people who couldn’t have a gun. They started focusing on those convicted of domestic violence because, well, no one likes a wife-beater.

Now, for some reason, Virginia decided to pass its own version.

A bill to temporarily take away gun rights for some misdemeanor domestic assault convictions is on the way to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk after winning final approval in the General Assembly on Monday.

Under the legislation from Del. Kathleen Murphy (D-Fairfax), violators who knowingly purchase, possess or transport a firearm despite being banned could be charged with a Class One misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of 12 months behind bars.

If Northam signs the measure into law, it would apply to those found guilty of assault and battery against certain family members on or after July 1, 2021.

The bill that passed in the House of Delegates on Monday incorporated various changes suggested by the Senate.

One allows a person’s gun rights to be restored automatically three years after a conviction, unless another crime disqualifies them or they’re subject to an ongoing protective order. Another limits firearm prohibitions to those who abuse a current spouse, a former spouse or “any individual who has a child in common with the person,” regardless of whether the parents have ever resided together.

OK, so the fact that someone has their rights restored after a period of time so long as they keep their nose clean is better than some of these bills.

Also, this one doesn’t include language that would expand the list beyond what’s already generally accepted. Yes, some lawmakers wanted that, but others argued that such language could impact people who weren’t actually in a relationship, such as siblings or platonic roommates.

Yet, there is a question. Isn’t this already federal law?

It is. And what’s more, they know it.

A similar firearm possession ban is already on the books at the federal level but lawmakers say it’s rarely enforced. Murphy’s bill would give local police the tools to intervene if they come across a violation.

However, just like the federal law, this isn’t good law.

See, the problem is that when you take away someone’s rights over a misdemeanor, you’re crossing the line. Most people accept felons not being able to have firearms, but misdemeanors? I mean, many of us have run afoul over the odd misdemeanor. I mean, that’s how I found out Myrtle Beach had an open container law. Imagine my surprise.

Yet anti-gun lawmakers want to continue disarming some people over misdemeanors. They’ll attempt to expand that list with what sounds kind of reasonable until the list of what keeps one from owning a firearm is so expansive it’s ridiculous.

My own take is that there’s an easier way to do this.

Make domestic violence a felony and call it a day.

Seriously, if the crime is that heinous–and I happen to think it is–then why allow it to remain a misdemeanor. Make it a felony, convict them in a court of law before a jury of their peers, and deal with it that way.

I don’t even know that it would be all that controversial, either, so why not?

Probably because it’s not about domestic violence and never was. It’s about guns and that’s it.

Apr 09, 2021 5:00 PM ET