Our public policy priorities for 2016
1. Keep guns from ineligible buyers:
Current Virginia law requires Federally Licensed Firearm dealers (FFLs) to complete background checks on prospective gun buyers; however, unlicensed sellers may sell any number and type of guns, yet are not required to perform a background check on the buyers of their guns. Background checks on buyers should be required for all commercial gun sales and permanent transfers of ownership outside the immediate family of the seller, including: sales at gun shows, pawn shops and sales through newspapers or online ads.
2. Prohibit Possession of guns by Convicted Domestic Abusers:
Persons who have been convicted of domestic violence or stalking should not be permitted to own or possess firearms, even when guilt is deferred (Va. Code 18.2–57.3). Virginia law should conform to Federal law in order to allow Virginia authorities to keep guns from those convicted of any form of domestic violence.
3. Create a Gun Violence Restraining Order
Create a restraining order with a judicial pathway similar to domestic violence protective orders, that allows family members to request police petition the courts to temporarily remove firearms from the possession of a person who is experiencing a crisis which could lead to suicide or violence.
4. Keep guns out of schools:
In 2004 the Virginia General Assembly allowed local school divisions to interpret the Virginia code regarding guns on school property. Virginia code should be conformed to federal law to prohibit guns on school property. In the interest of public safety, colleges and universities should also be allowed to prohibit guns on their campuses.
5. Strengthen the Concealed Handgun Permit process:
Virginia should adopt a uniform standard of background check using the Virginia State Police Firearms Transaction Program. In addition, all applicants should be required to complete both an in person classroom session, to learn the laws governing the carrying and use of a concealed handgun, as well as a professionally supervised “live fire” training and skills test conducted at a gun range.
6. Preserve the drinking ban on concealed handgun permit holders and extend it to open carriers:
Alcohol and firearms make a dangerous mix. In the interest of public safety, concealed handgun permit holders should not be permitted to consume alcohol in ABC licensed premises where they are now legally allowed to carry handguns. Virginia law should include this same prohibition on alcohol consumption for citizens who “open carry” firearms, both publicly and in ABC licensed premises.
7. Strengthen Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws:
Rewrite Virginia CAP law to ensure that adult gun owners are prosecuted whenever a minor (<18 years old) uses a firearm that was not stored in a safe manner designed to limit access by minors. Some exemptions could be made for situations where a minor defeated the storage methods by unlocking a gun safe or by removing a properly secured trigger lock.