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Passionate debate ahead of vote to stiffen Virginia gun laws

Posted at 1:21 PM, Feb 24, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. -- Emotions were high inside the Virginia General Assembly on Monday as the Senate Judiciary Committee considered multiple gun-related bills. In the end, all but one bill passed through committee and onto the full Senate.

"There was arguing, there was a rush to get these bills done," gun rights supporter Candy Eubank said.

Eubank was among the dozens of people who filled the committee room.

Some wore "Guns Save Lives" stickers, others wore stickers that read "Background checks save lives."

In the end, the Committee passed the majority of bills like the so-called "Red Flag Law."

That law would allow a firearm to be seized if a person is deemed a risk of personal injury to themselves or others.

They also passed a bill to give localities control over where firearms are allowed.

Eubank and other gun-rights supporters argued that bill would cause confusion and make society less safe.

"Criminals do not obey the laws," said Eubank. "If you start changing the rules of each locality we’ll never know what’s right and wrong from one county line to the next county line."

But one bill, House Bill 1288, was passed over for the year, despite urges from gun control supporters to pass it.

The bill would’ve prohibited a person who has been convicted of certain domestic violence related crimes from having a gun.

"I don’t think there is any reason we should wait until next year for this very important provision -- these are very serious offenses," said a gun-control supporter who took the podium.

Following that vote, a crowd of gun-rights and gun-control supporters formed outside the Committee Room, debating their side.

"I was in the room at seven years old. In the room," said one gun-rights supporter wearing an NRA hat. "And I saw the look in that man’s eyes when he executed my mother and my grandmother. Do not disarm the law abiding citizens of Virginia."

However a gun control supporter, also outside the Committee Room argued having a gun, can lead to violence.

"When you train with a firearm, you’re not just training to shoot you are conditioning yourself to kill," he said.

Eubank argued the bills that passed Monday, would not make Virginia safer.

"I think they keep attacking law-abiding citizens with more penalties to make us criminals," Eubank said.

Most of the bills that passed Monday were passed with a substitute or modification from the original bill.

Those bills will next head to the full Senate.