Posted by 13 January 2020
Democrats are now in charge of the two houses of the Virginia legislature and the governor’s mansion. They are taking advantage of this opportunity to push through gun control bills that had long been stopped by Republicans.
Among the bills moving through the legislature in Richmond:
- Banning firearms from the capitol building complex, including firearms carried by law enforcement, legislators, and those with concealed weapons permits
- Limiting handgun purchases to one per month
- Mandating background checks for all firearms purchases, including private sales between individuals
- Permitting local governments more leeway in enacting gun bans for certain events
- Giving police the ability to remove guns from someone’s possession if they think that person poses a threat of imminent harm
Democratic Virginia legislators have long tried to pass these bills, but Republicans who controlled the legislature quashed these efforts. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, called legislators into special session last year to consider gun control bills. Republican leaders adjourned the session without doing so.
In the 2019 elections, however, Virginia voters gave Democrats control of both legislative bodies for the first time in years. With Northam still in the governor’s mansion, it set up a situation where Republicans no longer had the votes to thwart gun control bills. This is what Democrats have focused on in the early days of the legislative session.
Those pushing these bills say they are necessary to reduce gun violence and protect Virginians. Opponents counter that gun control targets law-abiding gun owners and that there is little evidence that it actually reduces crime.
Do you support limiting handgun purchases to one per month? Should all gun sales, even private sales, be subject to background checks?
Posted by 12 December 2019
Virginia legislators are gearing up to pass a number of new gun control bills starting January. While it is unclear exactly what will be proposed in the legislature, local officials are already fighting back. They are passing resolutions declaring their counties “Second Amendment sanctuaries,” saying that they want to stand up for gun rights in the face of unconstitutional laws.
Gun control legislation has stalled for years in the Virginia legislature. Democratic governors have pushed for a variety of bills to restrict the sale and ownership of firearms, but Republican legislative leaders have rejected these proposals. But last year, Democrats took control of the legislature. Many of the new members have vowed to enact gun bills, something that Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam supports.
This has prompted city and county governments across Virginia to pass resolutions declaring that they will support the Second Amendment and refuse to enforce what they see as unconstitutional gun laws. These resolutions are similar to what is being done by some local governments in other states in response to gun laws.
While a local government can express opposition to state gun laws, it has no authority to prevent such laws from being enforced within its jurisdiction. State law overrides local law. Law enforcement have a duty to enforce state law, although they do have discretion on how they conduct such enforcement.
While this movement echoes the label of the sanctuary policies that cities, counties, and states have declared regarding immigration, there is one key difference. Those policies affected local and state cooperation with federal immigration laws. The federal government has no power to compel these law enforcement entities to enforce federal law. States do have the power to compel local police and sheriffs to enforce state law.
Gov. Northam has been vague about what he will do in reaction to these sanctuary policies. There have been no new state gun control laws enacted, so it remains to be seen what will happen once these laws go into effect. Gov. Northam has said there could be repercussions for local law enforcement officials who do not comply with state law.
Do you think that local governments should declare they will not enforce state gun control laws they view as unconstitutional?
Posted by 06 December 2019
Michael Bloomberg has long championed gun control policies, both as a private citizen and as mayor of New York. Now that he’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination, he has unveiled a sweeping package of proposals that would enact a variety of new restrictions on gun purchases and ownership.
These are a few of the initiatives being proposed by Bloomberg:
- Mandate a federal license prior to any individual purchasing a gun
- Require every gun purchase complete a background check
- Enact a federal “red flag” law that allows police to seize guns from individuals who are suspected of being a threat
- Prohibit individuals from publishing plans for 3-D guns online
- Raise the federal age to purchase guns to 21
- Ban “assault weapons”
- Enact a law that sets federal rules on how individuals store their guns
- Increase funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms as well as funding for gun violence research
- Mandate a 48-hour waiting period for gun purchases
- Require gun owners to report if their guns are lost or stolen within 3 days
- Repeal the federal law that restricts lawsuits against gun manufacturers
Many of these proposals are also backed by other candidates running for the Democratic nomination. However, Bloomberg has a long history of gun control advocacy. He has donated significant sums of money to organizations and candidates who has pushed this issue, and he’s making it a centerpiece of his campaign.
According to Bloomberg, these new federal restrictions are necessary to stem the tide of gun violence. He sees them as a way to reduce gun deaths and make our communities safer. Opponents, however, say that they will only infringe upon the rights of lawful gun owners. They also argue that many of these ideas infringe upon the Second Amendment.
Do you support requiring a federal license for someone who wants to purchase a gun? Should there be a 48-hour waiting period for gun purchases?
Posted by 02 December 2019
For 18 years, New York City prohibited licensed gun owners from transporting their guns to most places. Today, the Supreme Court is hearing a challenge to that law which claims it is an unconstitutional infringement upon the rights of gun owners.
Under question is the city ordinance that restricts licensed gun owners from taking their firearms to any places except specified shooting ranges within the city and to designated hunting areas in New York state. The plaintiffs in the case were barred from participating in a shooting competition in New Jersey and were also told they could not take their guns to another home in New York state. They are arguing that these restrictions are an infringement upon their constitutional rights.
New York city has since amended the law to allow wider transport of firearms. The Supreme Court justices could decide that since city legislators have acted, the case is moot. Or they could use this case as a way to recognize a wider individual right to carry a firearm.
This is the first major gun control case considered by the high court since 2010. There have been a handful of cases in the years prior to that which established an individual right to own a gun and said that neither the federal nor state governments could pass laws that prohibited gun ownership. However, the Supreme Court has yet to settle many legal issues over the numerous gun control laws that exist at the federal, state, and local level.
Supporters of this challenge would like to see the court create a clear rule that defines how people may travel with their guns. Opponents fear that the court could undo gun control laws that they contend are necessary for safety.
A ruling in this case, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. City of New York, is expected in June 2020.
Do you think the Second Amendment protects the carrying of a gun outside the home?
Posted by 26 November 2019
This year, Colorado legislators passed a “red flag” gun law that allows police to seize firearms from individuals they see as threats. This was the first gun control bill passed in the state since 2013. Democratic legislators are vowing more gun bills next year.
The red flag legislation was controversial, leading to an unsuccessful recall campaign against its sponsor. But this has no deterred the Democrats who control the Colorado legislature from exploring more gun control bills for next year’s legislative session.
Among the bills being considered:
- Mandating that businesses safely store firearms after business hours
- Requiring individual gun owners to safely store their firearms
- Make it a crime for gun owners to fail to report if their firearms have been stolen
Other states have adopted similar bills, but such proposals have been a tough sell in Colorado. The state, while trending Democratic recently, has a large rural population.
Supporters of these measures say that they are necessary to prevent gun violence and accidents. They say that law-abiding gun owners have nothing to fear from them. Opponents, however, see these bills as government infringing on their constitutional rights. They also note that criminals are unlikely to comply with the law, so the only people affected are law-abiding gun owners.
Do you support the government mandating how businesses and individuals store guns? Should gun owners be required to report when their guns are stolen?