RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - An effort to put a new gun law on the books for reporting stolen or missing firearms failed Wednesday night in committee.
Senator Jennifer McClellan, who represents Charles City, parts of Hanover/Henrico counties and the City of Richmond, proposed a measure to create consequences for gun owners who don’t report their weapons’ disappearance.
“This is at least the third time the bill has been introduced,” McClellan said. “Some haven’t made it out of committee in the past.”
The District 9 senator was hoping the story of Kivonte Sessoms would help lawmakers change their minds this year.
“That night he went out of the house and I was in the kitchen cooking,” said Latisha Sessoms, Kivonte’s mother. “He went to walk to the store and then never came back.”
March 2 will mark two years since the 18-year-old Varina High School senior was gunned down near their home at the intersection of Futura and Westover avenues.
The family believes it was at the hands of someone involved in a stolen gun ring.
“When Latisha checked his Instagram account she saw pictures from some of the people who were involved with stolen guns,” McClellan said.
Having learned about Sessoms, McClellan hoped to use the case to sway lawmakers into holding gun owners responsible for their weapons.
In the proposed bill, gun owners who don't report their weapons stolen or missing face a first time fine of $50. Anything after that would be between $100-$250.
“We wanted it to be high enough to be enough of an incentive for them to do it, but not so high as to be too much of a burden," McClellan said.
Lawmakers for and against the bill spoke at the committee meeting Wednesday where SB1324 failed by a vote of 6-8.
However, McClellan isn’t giving up hope, especially for the Sessoms family.
“I had a bill that took me eight years to get passed,” McClellan said. “I’m not one to give up, and particularly given Latisha’s interest, she really wanted me to put it back in.”
“When somebody takes a gun and you’re not responsible for that gun, that gun can end up in the wrong hands or the wrong people,” Sessoms said. “Just like my loved one is gone, that gun can kill your loved one, as well."
At a neighborhood meeting McClellan saw first-hand the issue of stolen guns in the greater Richmond area, citing a need for this law.
“The lieutenant had a picture of stolen guns they had recovered at one raid and it was a staggering picture that really got my attention,” McClellan said.
She added former Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham had asked lawmakers to push the bill forward this session.
“He found out that a lot of firearms that are used in crimes turn out to be lost or stolen,” McClellan said. “It's really hard to track back ownership and where in the chain of custody that gun might have been during a crime."
“It can happen to anybody,” Sessoms said. “So they need to be more responsible and they need more consequences for not keeping up with their weapons.”
Henrico Police are still searching for suspects in Sessoms' murder.
Anyone with information is urged to contact police or Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.