Saturday, April 20, 2024

Virginia General Assembly looks to pass gun safety legislation

While Virginia is proposing an assault weapons ban in public spaces, other states have gone further. Currently, 10 states and Washington, D.C., ban the manufacture, sale and transfer of assault weapons. A 2023 Fox News poll found 61% of people favor a national assault weapons ban. (Adobe Stock)

RICHMOND — Virginia’s Senate recently passed a series of gun safety bills, which now head to the House.

Among them are measures to ban assault weapons in public, ban “ghost guns,” and increasing other safety measures.

The bills come as many states and the federal government are taking a hard look at gun violence. Last year, Virginia saw a reduction in gun violence, due in part to community violence prevention funds. But the state still ranks high for gun deaths.

Kelsey Cowger, press secretary for Progress VA, said based on other state progress, the bills are essential to keeping Virginians safe.

“When movement has been possible, it’s been a base that we can work off of that stops the insane level of killing within our communities that already exists and allows us to catch our breath a little bit,” Cowger asserted.

Some Republicans in both General Assembly chambers oppose the bills, noting they restrict a person’s 2nd Amendment rights. Yet, polls show the bills have widespread support across party lines. The measures have been referred to the House Committee on Public Safety.

Cowger contended the bills are a steady foundation for Virginia to build on. While other reforms can prove crucial for reducing gun violence further, she stressed the state needs to get this current set of legislation on the books first.

“You know, as much as I would like to sort of look with an eye towards the future for the kind of changes we can make, I feel like we just need the foundation first,” Cowger acknowledged. “We need to be able to gauge whether or not dangerous people have guns.”

National gun violence deaths have been declining since they peaked in 2021. In Virginia, there have been more than 9,300 shootings between 2014 and 2022, which resulted in more injuries than fatalities.

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