Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday released more specifics on gun bills he wants addressed at Tuesday’s special session of the legislature, beyond what he outlined in a news conference last month.
The actual legislation and details aren’t yet public. Two GOP bills that have been filed for the session are available online and more are expected.
In his June 4 news conference four days after a mass shooting in Virginia Beach, Northam said he would propose legislation on background checks; a ban on assault weapons, silencers and bump stocks; legislation on protective orders; reinstating Virginia’s former one-handgun-a month law; legislation on child access to guns; legislation on requirements to report lost and stolen firearms; and expanding local authority to regulate guns, including in government buildings.
Northam’s office said Wednesday that Democratic lawmakers have sent eight bills to the Virginia Division of Legislative Services for drafting.
The governor said in a statement that he wants legislation that allows localities to enact gun restrictions that are stricter than state law, including in municipal buildings.
The governor proposes banning high-capacity magazines but did not define the term on Wednesday. He noted at the June 4 news conference that he previously supported a ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
Northam wants legislation creating an “extreme risk protective order” that would allow police and courts to temporarily take someone’s guns “if the person exhibits dangerous behavior that presents an immediate threat to self or others,” the news release said.
He wants to expand existing law to forbid all individuals subject to final protective orders — not just final protective orders for domestic abuse — from having guns. The governor wants to change the punishment from a misdemeanor to a felony for people who allow a child to get a loaded, unsecured firearm — and he wants to raise the age of children the law applies to from 14 to 18.
Two bills filed by Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, were available as of Wednesday afternoon on the state’s online Legislative Information System.
One of them would codify the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the court ruled that the constitutional right to keep and bear arms is unconnected to militia service.
Cole’s second bill would, among other things, require state and local governments that prohibit employees from carrying concealed weapons at work to provide police or armed security.
Northam announced he would call for a special session four days after a Virginia Beach city employee shot and killed 12 people in a municipal building before being killed in a gunfight with police. Many questions about what happened remain.