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A Virginia gun bill had support from gun-control groups and the NRA. It still failed.

Legislature fails to tighten law against guns with destroyed serial numbers
Legislature fails to tighten law against guns with destroyed serial numbers(Gray News)
Published: Mar. 15, 2022 at 10:03 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2022 at 10:06 AM EDT
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At a legislative hearing last month, something so unusual happened some in the room joked it should go down as an important moment in history: The NRA and gun-control groups agreed a Democratic gun bill was good enough to make it through a Republican committee.

“So Jesus is coming any minute,” quipped Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, as the committee advanced the bill creating clearer punishments for people caught with firearms that have been made untraceable by having their serial numbers filed off.

But the miracle turned out to be a mirage.

The bill had passed both legislative chambers in some form, but efforts to reach a final deal broke down last week as lawmakers realized they couldn’t agree after all, even on a relatively small tweak to the state’s gun laws.

The bill’s sponsor, Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, said the conference committee of six lawmakers working on the bill had failed to produce a final version.

State law already makes it a misdemeanor offense to remove a firearm’s serial number or other identifying marks. But, according to the bill’s backers, authorities were having a hard time proving who exactly had done the removing.

“If somebody’s found with the gun that’s had the serial number clearly filed right off, you’ve got to prove that they’re the one that did it,” Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, said while presenting his bill to expand and clarify the law. “And that’s the problem that commonwealth’s attorneys have had.”

The proposed law made it a violation to “knowingly” possess or sell a gun defaced in a way that prevents authorities from tracking its origin or ownership history. It would’ve brought state law more in line with federal law, which already makes deliberately unmarked guns illegal as long as authorities can prove a tie to interstate commerce.

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.(Virginia Mercury)

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.

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