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Bills would ban convicted domestic violence offenders from buying, possessing guns

Posted at 7:27 PM, Jan 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-30 08:46:32-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Two bills introduced by state lawmakers aim to prevent deadly domestic violence tragedies involving guns.

Barbara Harrington re-lived a heart-wrenching experience at Virginia's General Assembly Thursday in hopes of swaying lawmakers.

Harrington said her brother-in-law killed her sister, mother and nephew before turning the gun on himself nearly a year ago in Washington County. Her father managed to survive the attack.

"It's something that I hope no one ever has to go through in their life," Harrington explained.

Harrington said her sister was a victim of domestic violence and had a restraining order against her husband, but that wasn't enough to stop what happened.

Barbara Harrington

Barbara Harrington

"She went to every agency she could speak to, went to law enforcement. She tried everything she could," Barrington said. "She was a wonderful, wonderful mother, wonderful sister. And it's very sad that she's no longer here."

As a result, some state lawmakers are aiming for more protection.

Both House Bill 2085 and Senate Bill 943 would prohibit people convicted of misdemeanor crimes like domestic violence, sexual battery and stalking from buying or possessing firearms.

The bills would also allow state prosecutors to deal with those offenses in the Commonwealth.

"It'll be a good thing to try to keep the victim safe," said Richard Hill, a manager at Bob's Sport Shop.

But while Hill understands the need for more safety, he worries the bills could go too far.

"Not everybody is a career criminal," Hill said. "There are people that have made mistakes in life. And once they've paid for them deserve to move on with their lives."

The proposed legislation would mirror federal laws taking action against criminals convicted of similar crimes.

The bills still have to go through a few hurdles before they become law in Virginia.