Virginia is a bit hot and cold regarding gun laws lately. For a while, they were anti-gun. Then they were pro-gun. Then anti-gun. And so it will continue until the heat death of the universe, or so it seems.
The idea that guns are bad is common among anti-gun lawmakers, regardless of the state. Usually, though, the people being punished are the people who actually do a given thing. Not always, though.
You see, lawmakers there are looking to punish parents for the gun-related actions of their kids.
The murder of 13-year-old Lucia Bremer is now prompting two Henrico lawmakers to push for new gun control legislation.
If passed, House Bill 36 and Senate Bill 44 could mean charges for parents if their children get a hold of their gun.
The bills would toughen the penalty for parents or adults who don’t secure their firearms when their child or another minor uses the weapon to commit a crime.
“The adult that allowed the child to get a gun that ultimately tragically took Lucia’s life,” VanValkenburg said. “There was nothing that the prosecutors could do to charge that adult with a crime.”
We’ll come back to that last point here in a bit.
Philip Van Cleave had thoughts on the bill itself.
“We’ve analyzed the bill, and there are some problems with it,” said Philip Van Cleave, President of the Virginia Citizens Defense League.
He says the legislation is too vague and wrongly blames parents for the actions of their teenage children.
“Let’s say you have a 17-year-old son, and he steals the keys to your car or breaks into a neighbor’s car and goes for a joyride,” he said. “They don’t come and throw you in jail!”
He’s not wrong.
The lawmakers who introduced these bills–one in the House and one in the Senate, but ultimately the same bill–say they were motivated by the 2021 shooting, but I find that interesting. After all, it’s 2023. What took them so long?
More over, there was a much more recent shooting involving an unsecured firearm in Virginia they could have used as justification. I’m talking about the first grade teacher who was shot by a student in Newport News.
Why didn’t they use that?
Or could it be that the Newport News case actually makes it clear that you don’t really need another law on the books?
The mother of the 6-year-old boy accused of shooting his first grade teacher during class in Newport News, Virginia, in January was sentenced on Wednesday to 21 months in prison on federal charges.
Deja Taylor was charged with using marijuana while in possession of a firearm and making a false statement about her drug use during the purchase of the firearm, both felonies, in the wake of the January shooting at Richneck Elementary School.
Taylor was also indicted on state charges in connection with the shooting. She pleaded guilty to child neglect in August and has yet to be sentenced. A misdemeanor charge of endangering a child by reckless storage of a firearm was dropped.
Now, if the prosecutors in the Bremer case didn’t feel they had sufficient evidence to charge the father for the endangering a child by reckless storage of a firearm, that’s one thing. It’s quite another to pass an additional law specifically targeting gun ownership like this.
That’s because the bill will likely go beyond reckless storage and, ultimately, transfer responsibility for a juvenile’s actions onto the parent–a parent who is usually a victim of gun theft in such case, it should be noted.
Then again, gun owners are always at fault for this bunch.