Virginia Senate committee advances bill toughening gun storage laws

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 5:41 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2023 at 7:08 AM EST
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After a classroom shooting allegedly committed by a Virginia 6-year-old, Democrats in the state Senate are advancing a bill that would require adults to keep guns locked up if minors are in the home.

Violations of the proposed law, which would require gun dealers to post notices at their stores informing customers about the consequences of improper gun storage, would be a low-level misdemeanor offense punishable by fines of up to $250.

Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Loudoun, the bill’s sponsor, said she set the penalty low on purpose in hopes of winning some Republican support. The goal, Boysko said, is to “teach somebody instead of sending them to prison.”

“It is up to us to be the adults and protect our children from harming themselves or others,” Boysko told the Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing Monday morning. “This is a reasonable thing. It takes nobody’s Second Amendment rights away.”

The committee advanced the bill on a 9-6 vote along party lines, with Republicans united against it. That outcome indicates the bill could face trouble in the GOP-controlled House of Delegates. After the vote, Boysko said she intends to add tougher penalties to the bill after the lighter touch didn’t win over any Republican senators.

“It was an effort to find common ground,” Boysko wrote on Twitter. “Too bad they put their love of guns ahead of child safety.”

Boysko’s bill would also apply in homes where an adult resident is legally prohibited from possessing a gun.

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NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news...
NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news organization covering state government and policy.(Virginia Mercury)