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A look at some of Virginia’s proposed gun laws

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

The Second Amendment Sanctuary movement has been gaining steam of late with county after county in the Commonwealth voting to pass resolutions aimed at limiting to the use of local government resources in enforcing newly proposed gun control laws.

Members of the Democrat controlled Virginia General Assembly have already introduced several gun control bills which, upon their likely passage, would almost certainly be signed into law by Democrat governor Ralph Northam.

The following is a list of proposed laws that advocates of the Second Amendment find particularly egregious.

One of the proposed laws receiving the most attention is Senate Bill 16, which will be sponsored by Virginia State Senator Dick Saslaw in the upcoming 2020 legislative session.

Senate Bill 16 would make it illegal to sell or even possess of a number of firearms that are currently legal. Those in violation of this proposed law would be guilty of a felony.

SB 16 would make any semi-automatic rifle with a fixed capacity of more than 10 rounds illegal. In addition, the possession of any center fire rifle that has the ability to accept a detachable magazine and that has a thumbhole stock, pistol grip or a second hand grip or a threaded barrel would also automatically become a felony.

Any semi-automatic pistol with a fixed magazine capacity in excess of 10 rounds will also be illegal to own if this bill passes. If the pistol has the ability to accept a detachable magazine other restrictions apply, which include banning threaded barrels and prohibiting pistols weighing 50 ounces or more.

Shotguns with the ability to accept detachable magazines or having a fixed capacity of over seven rounds would also become illegal to own.

As a result, every rifle with the common AR-15 design and many pistols and shotguns that are currently in common use for personal defense and target shooting would be banned. Since they would be illegal to own, they would have to be either surrendered or seized by law enforcement authorities.

Proposed Senate Bill 18 makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy any firearm, as well as making it illegal under this age to own a handgun. This bill would also require background checks for gun sales between two private citizens, with an exemption for immediate family members.

SB 18 makes it a felony to leave a loaded gun in such a manner as to endanger the life of any person under the age of 18. This bill would also make it a crime for any person to authorize a child under the age of 18 to use a firearm without the direct supervision of an adult.

This would presumably make it a crime for children to defend themselves with firearms against intruders trying to break into their homes and do them harm.

Senate Bill 64 states that a person is guilty of a felonious paramilitary activity if that person teaches or demonstrates the use or application of a firearm and has reason to know that such training will result in the furtherance of a civil disorder.

This bill makes training people in the use of firearms potentially risky business, as any instructor could potentially be held responsible for his student’s misuse of a firearm. A court could theoretically determine the instructor “had reason to know” that person was going to commit a crime, even if his intentions were not openly stated.

SB 64 also states that one or more persons with the intent to intimidate any person or group of persons by drilling or parading with a firearm will be guilty of a felony. The bill suggests a minimum fine of $50,000 for this offense as well as jail time.

Senate Bill 22 would, with certain exemptions, disallow for the purchase of more than one handgun over a 30-day period.

Senate Bill 51 would prohibit a person from carrying a concealed handgun onto the premises of any public space where alcoholic beverages have been approved for sale or where alcohol is being consumed.

House Bill 9 would make it mandatory to report the theft of a firearm within 24 hours. Failure to do so would result in a potential fine of $250.

This is an overview but not a complete account of some of the proposed gun laws that will be up for passage in the upcoming 2020 session of the General Assembly. There are more and more may well be introduced but these are of the most concern with Senate Bill 16 likely causing the most controversy for gun rights advocates.

No new “red flag” laws allowing courts to seize firearms from law abiding individuals are currently on the docket. However, earlier in the year, Virginia governor Ralph Northam proposed a law which would allow the courts to seize guns from people whom a judge deems a threat to themselves or others.

Many would contend that such a red flag law would strip a person of their Second Amendment rights without due process.

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