Sen. Jennifer McClellan: Gun violence prevention

From Senator Jennifer McClellan

 

In November, the voters of Virginia sent a clear message: They were sick and tired of the gun violence in our communities and they wanted the legislature to take action. The majority of Virginians voted in favor of meaningful gun violence prevention.

Now, the legislature is moving forward on fulfilling that promise – regardless of the actions of a vocal minority of people who disrupted our city last week.

For years, Democrats in the legislature have put forward gun violence prevention bills, only to see them blocked by party-line votes in Republican-held committees. Now, those bills – popularly supported by Virginians – are finally moving forward. It’s long overdue.

Last week, the Senate passed an “extreme risk” protection order bill, which prevents the purchase or possession of a firearm by people found by the court to be a danger to themselves or others. Already, 17 other states have similar “red flag” laws – and these laws have received bipartisan backing, with even President Trump recommending them after the Parkland, Florida, tragedy. Now, Virginia is poised to take a major step forward towards safety.

Also this month, the Senate has passed a bill reinstituting the one-handgun-per-month law, which passed under Gov. Doug Wilder in 1993 and was repealed by Gov. Bob McDonnell in 2012. This law proved effective at preventing straw purchases – and Virginia is on the way to reinstituting it.

With bipartisan support, the Senate also passed Sen. Louise Lucas’ bill requiring mandatory background checks for gun sales. This bill would also ensure that guns do not fall into the wrong hands. I was proud to vote for all three of these bills.

We have more work to do. I have proposed SB 67, that requires lost or stolen guns (excluding antiques) be reported to local law-enforcement or State Police within 24 hours. Currently, there is no requirement to report lost or stolen firearms. This lack of requirement is thwarting the ability of law enforcement to solve violent crimes. This bill was requested by the Richmond Police Department for the past several years, and was filed during the Special Session called by the Governor in the wake of the Virginia Beach tragedy.

As Virginians, we’ve seen too many gun-related tragedies impact our communities: from mass shootings in Virginia Beach and at Virginia Tech to gun-related violence in our communities every day. Furthermore communities of color have felt disproportionate impacts of gun violence. Black men are more than 11 times more likely than white men to be the victims of gun-related homicide in Virginia; and Black victims make up 67% of gun-related hospitalizations in Virginia.

We cannot stand by, as gun violence continues to wreak havoc on our communities. As your Senator, I will continue to take action on gun violence prevention – and we will continue to keep our promise to the people of Virginia to pass laws that protect our communities.

Over the next couple of months, I look forward to sharing my thoughts on issues before the General Assembly – and hearing from you. Please feel free to share your views on legislation with me at district09@senate.virginia.gov or (804) 698-7509. You can also follow me on Twitter and Instragram at JennMcClellanVA or on Facebook at Senjennifermcclellan.