New bill banning firearms near polling places passes the Virginia House

Updated: Jan. 26, 2021 at 6:35 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill banning firearms within 40 feet of polling places to prevent voter intimidation. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has been working on this for more than a year.

“Studies that come in show that guns at polling places chill people’s freedom to really feel safe and exercising this very fundamental right,” said Brady President Kris Brown. “So I would say what we saw come out of the House of Delegates, and we’re so happy to see this passage, is the culmination of work we’ve been doing.”

One local gun store owner says it’s a waste of time for delegates.

“What are they gonna start doing for people that conceal carry? A properly concealed gun you’ll never know is there,” says Dubby Carr, owner of Dubby’s Fishing and Hunting. “So are they gonna do metal detectors, are they gonna frisk everybody? You know? So I don’t know how they’re gonna enforce it. So it’s just another grandiose, ‘oh look what we’re doing’ waste of time.”

Brown says there is an unfortunate history of voter intimidation. “It changes the equation. Guns aren’t merely objects, they speak. And they intimidate, and they’re designed to intimidate. From our perspective and I think for most Americans, that and the free and fair exercise of your right to vote are not a good mix,” she said.

Carr says guns are not the issue at the polls. “If there’s voter intimidation, it’s by the people handing out those little pamphlets, coming up and getting in your face, and saying here, here, do you want one of these, vote for these people, he said. “That’s the voter intimidation, just let people go in and do their thing.”

The bill is now heading to the Virginia Senate. The Brady Campaign is pushing for them to pass the bill without delay.

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