Virginia Democratic Lawmakers Hope to Pass Gun Reform Before Session Ends

Democratic lawmakers call for a chance to pass gun control legislation before the Virginia General Assembly adjourns next week.

Many gun safety bills have been submitted this session, but most bit the dusk early in the year. In these last few days of the session, not much can be done to put gun reform back on track without Republican support.

Del. Ken Plum, D-Fairfax, said he feels embarrassed to have to return to his district without passing any gun reform.

“What did we do about it? I’ll tell you what we did about it, we killed at least 35 bills that were common sense gun control safety legislation,” said Plum.

Del. Rip Sullivan, D-Fairfax, called for a hearing for his House Bill 198 which would create a procedure by which friends and family can report a person who they suspect may be harmful to themselves or others. Police enforcement would be able to petition a judge for a “risk warrant” to remove firearms from the person’s possession.

National Republican lawmakers have called for similar legislation, calling it a “gun restraining order.” Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Vice President Mike Pence have both spoken in favor in passing this type legislation.

The bill was never given a hearing, and was left in the Courts of Justice committee. Typically, all proposals that fail to cross over to the other chamber before the midway point of the session die silently. But Democrats said with the help from Republican lawmakers the bill could be referred to the Rules Committee and sent to the floor for a vote, bringing the bill back from an early death. Plum said the rule is seldom used but has been done before.

The politicians said they had been inspired by young people, from their districts and all over the nation, that are speaking up about gun violence and staging national protests and school walkouts.

“When you listen to the voices today of our nation’s children, children who have now risen as advocates and are carrying this issue allowing it to finally gain traction, we need to follow their lead,” said Del. Karrie Delaney, D-Fairfax. “We need to realize there are sensible and practical solutions which can tackle this danger.”

Democratic legislators said they support the students who are protesting in their districts. On March 14th many Virginia students plan to walk out of their schools as part of a national protest. The protest will last 17 minutes, in honor of the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“These massacres are the loudest reminders that we must act,” said Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria.