Three gun reform bills move to Va. House

Three gun reform bills move to Va. House

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Monday’s gun-rights rally came and went, and now advocates are focusing on the next step.

Three gun reform bills make their way up the legislative chain, passing in the Senate along party lines last Thursday.

One bill - SB70 - would mandate universal background checks for any sort of firearm transfer, sale or not.

“Others do what we call a ‘straw purchase,’ and no background check can stop that. That’s where you give money to a person with a clean background, even though you’re a criminal. They go buy the gun, pass all the checks," explained Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

Van Cleave referred to the bills as useless, adding that his group’s fight is far from over.

“For people that don’t own guns, you think ‘why would you want more than one?’ Well, why do you want more than one pair of shoes? Do you really need more than one? No," he said when referring to SB69 that would limit the number of handguns people are allowed to buy per month, with exceptions being entities like law enforcement.

The last bill - SB35 - would give localities final say in banning guns at places where they would otherwise be allowed.

“We’re talking about a constitutional right. My constitutional right shouldn’t change base on what part of the state I’m in. My freedom of speech shouldn’t change just because I’m in Abermarle County," Van Cleave said of the third bill.

The Democratic sponsors of the bills did release statements when they passed last week:

Caucus Chair Mamie Locke said in part that the bills “are all simple measures that will save the lives of many Virginians” adding that “The safety and lives of all Virginians are not and should not be a partisan issue.”

Senator L. Louise Lucas said the universal background checks bill was “one major step in guaranteeing the safety of all Virginians is keeping weapons out of the hands of dangerous people by requiring background checks for all gun purchases.”

As for the “local authority” bill, sponsor Sen. Scott Surovell said it would “protect their residents from firearm violence in their buildings, parks and community events.”

The bills would still have to pass in the House and be signed by Governor Ralph Northam before becoming law.

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