Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney wants to impose new city laws to curb trafficking of stolen guns and distracted driving, he said Wednesday.
One would require gun owners to report a stolen firearm within 24 hours to Richmond Police. The other would allow police to pull over and ticket drivers using a cellphone while speeding, swerving or ignoring street signs.
The mayor will introduce the pair of ordinances at the City Council meeting on Monday. The council must sign off on the ordinances for them to take effect.
If approved, Stoney said residents who do not report a stolen firearm within the time frame would face a civil penalty.
Police have received 354 reports of stolen firearms this year, but have seized more that were never reported, said Will Smith, Richmond’s police chief. Many stolen guns are then used to commit other crimes, he said.
At a press conference he called to announce his proposal, Stoney criticized inaction on the issue at the state level. Efforts to pass a law establishing mandatory reporting requirements have failed in the General Assembly in the last several years.
Stoney said he worked with Everytown For Gun Safety, a nonprofit that advocates for tighter gun laws, to draft the ordinance, which he said relies on the police powers provision in state law. His office said it would take effect “immediately” if the council signs off on it.
“We all need to play a role in keeping our communities safe and we can no longer wait for the General Assembly to act,” Stoney said.
Under Stoney’s distracted driving proposal, drivers would face a $125 fine for their first violation and a $250 fine for any offense after that. The ordinance would not allow police to pull over drivers simply for using a mobile device while driving.
Last year, 73 crashes in the city were attributed to cellphone use while driving. He said the proposal was a part of his administration’s pledge to reduce pedestrian and cyclist deaths.
State law currently prohibits drivers from texting or emailing, but still permits browsing social media and watching videos.
If Stoney’s proposal is approved by the council, police would start enforcing it in six months.