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Virginia lawmakers expected to vote on several gun bills Monday

Posted at 9:14 PM, Jan 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-12 23:35:23-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia’s Senate Judiciary Committee is set to take up a slew of gun bills, which have been Democratic priorities for years, on the fourth day of the 2020 General Assembly session.

Those bills tackle everything from universal background checks on gun purchases, to the one handgun a month and "red flag" laws as well as restricting firearms in certain public spaces.

Many of those proposals have left gun owners in the Commonwealth angry because they believe any restrictions would infringe on their Second Amendment rights.

In fact, more than 90 localities in Virginia passed Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions ahead of the General Assembly session.

"Republicans are going to hope that they can get a couple of Democrats on their side to at least in some ways dampen some of the legislation Democrats are going to put forward," CBS 6 Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said. "And they are going to mobilize people in the communities who are objecting to this.”

2020 General Assembly

2020 General Assembly

If the bills pass the committee Monday, the measures would only advance to the next steps in the legislative process.

For many years, Democrats cried foul when gun control bills quickly failed in Republican-controlled committees.

The Senate Judiciary Committee meets at 9 a.m.

Holsworth previously said the 2020 General Assembly promised to be a "session like none other."

"More things are going to happen in the next 60 days in Virginia politics than we've probably seen in the last 20 years," CBS 6 political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said.

Many of the new laws state Democrats are expected to pass could take effect as early as July 1.

Jerry Harding

Jerry Harding

Gun show attendee on possible changes to Virginia gun laws: 'It's kind of scary'

Gun owners and enthusiasts like Jerry Harding browsed over thousands of firearms among the 800 tables at the Richmond Gun Show at the Richmond Raceway Complex on Saturday, Jan. 4.

"You very rarely hear of somebody getting one from a gun show and killing somebody," Harding said.

Attendees browse and examine firearms at the Richmond Gun Show.

Attendees browse and examine firearms at the Richmond Gun Show.

For gun lovers like 71-year-old Gary Powell, carrying a gun legally for protection has become second nature.

"I have my weapon for my safety and anybody else's," Powell said.

Powell  called the possibility of new gun laws during the General Assembly session "kind of scary, I guess you could say."

With Democrats taking legislative control, Gov. Ralph Northam has said he is focused on eight policies, including universal background checks, banning weapons with high capacity magazines as well as suppressors and bump stocks, in order to address gun violence.

"If he wants to cut the assault weapons out like he did before, but like the ones that's got them, keep them," Harding said.

Andrew Goddard

Andrew Goddard

Gun control advocate wants  background checks

Gun control advocates like Andrew Goddard, whose son was wounded in the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, support Northam's initiatives.

In the wake of the mass shooting, Goddard became an advocate for gun safety laws.

"I'm advocating not for the removal of everybody's gun,  but keeping guns out of the wrong hands," Goddard explained.

Goddard's biggest push is for better background checks.

"I think any private transfer of a gun -- that's not to a direct family member -- should be subject to a background check," Goddard said.

Polling from the Pew Research Center showed 60 percent of Americans believe gun laws should be more strict as of September 2019. That is up from 52 and 57 percent in March 2017 and October 2019,  respectively. That polling also showed that an overwhelming majority of people "strongly or somewhat favor barring people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns."

Depend on and CBS 6 News for complete coverage of the General Assembly session. 

Depend on and CBS 6 News for complete coverage of the General Assembly session.