Public Policy

 

People use guns but, in a sense, guns use people too. When we have the technology for violence easily to hand, our choices are skewed and we are more vulnerable to being manipulated into violent action.
Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

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. Create an Extreme Risk Protective Order to save lives:
We support allowing family members to request law enforcement (including police, sheriffs or commonwealth's attorneys) to petition the courts for an Extreme Risk Protective Order, to temporarily remove firearms from a person at risk of harm to self or others. Such a protective order, issued by the Courts, gives law enforcement the legal authority to help families address situations where their loved one may be in crisis, in circumstances which do not fall under the existing commitment parameters of the Commonwealth. Extreme Risk laws have passed in 13 states, where they have proven effective at reducing suicides and providing law enforcement another tool by which to save lives and enhance public safety.

3. 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.

4. Prohibit the carrying of firearms at public demonstrations and similar public events:
The right to “assemble peaceably to petition the government for redress of grievances” is guaranteed by the Constitution. However, attending such assemblies while heavily armed, wearing ballistic protection and/or military style uniforms is not indicative of an intention to remain peaceful. Public safety is best handled by professional police, not by armed groups or individuals with unknown motives and unknown levels of training. The carrying of far less lethal items, such as sticks and banners, can already be prohibited for public safety reasons and guns of all types should be treated similarly.

5. 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.

6. 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. Finally, with the changes in VA law to recognize permits from ANY other state, Virginia should stop issuing permits to residents of other states and not renew any such existing permits.

7. 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.

8. 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.