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Gov. Ralph Northam Signs Gun Control and “Red Flag” Bills Into Law


I feel so bad for my friends in Virginia. 

This is bad folks. 

After pushing for it for a long time, Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam finally passed strict gun control and red flag laws.

Take a look:

As reported by CNN:

Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday signed five gun measures into law, including a background checks bill and an "extreme risk protective order."

The slate of bills prompted a large gun-rights rally in January, with about 22,000 gathering in protest at Virginia's state capitol. The legislation has also fueled a pro-gun movement across the state known as "Second Amendment sanctuaries," or localities that vow not to enforce what some officials in those regions have called "unconstitutional" gun laws.

The gun measures had been a priority for Northam since he first introduced them in the 2019 legislative session -- and he made them an even more urgent priority in the wake of mass shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal building last year that left 12 people dead.

Northam called for a special session at that time to debate gun control, but it was adjourned by Republican lawmakers without action after just 90 minutes.

Northam reintroduced the legislative package in January, when his party began its control of both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly.

On Friday, Northam signed an "extreme risk protective order," also known as a "red flag" law, which allows for the temporary removal of firearms from people deemed to be at high risk of harming themselves or others. Virginia now joins the 19 other states and Washington, DC, in having passed some type of "red flag" law, Northam's statement said.

The governor also signed a bill requiring background checks for all state gun sales and a bill that limits the purchase of handguns to one a month. 

He also signed a bill that requires a person to report the loss or theft of a firearm within 48 hours, or face a civil penalty of up to $250 and one that raises the punishment for leaving a "loaded, unsecured firearm" that endangers anyone under the age of 14.

"We lose too many Virginians to gun violence, and it is past time we took bold, meaningful action to make our communities safer," Northam said in a statement Friday. "I was proud to work with legislators and advocates on these measures, and I am proud to sign them into law. These commonsense laws will save lives."

Philip Van Cleave, the president of Virginia Citizens Defense League, told CNN via email that the pro-gun rights group "has been readying lawsuits for weeks to overturn some of the new gun-control laws in the courts."

He credited Virginia gun owners to the defeat of some of the "worst" gun legislation.

"Most of the gun-control bills that made it to the governor's desk had been scaled back. Those bills are still bad, but not as bad as they once were," he wrote, adding that "the laws signed today can be repealed in future legislatures."

And from MSN:

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has signed several new gun restrictions he championed during this year's legislative session, cementing gains by gun control advocates they hope will serve as a “blueprint” for states around the country. 

Northam gestures during a news conference at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. Gov. Northam announced Friday, April 10 that he'd signed bills that include requiring universal background checks on gun purchases, a red flag bill to allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from people deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others, and legislation giving local governments more authority to ban guns in public places. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

The Old Dominion has been the epicenter of the nation’s gun debate after Democrats took full control of the General Assembly last year on an aggressive gun control platform. Tens of thousands of gun owners from around the country rallied against new gun restrictions at the state Capitol in January while lawmakers ultimately approved 7 out of 8 of Northam's gun-control package.

The governor announced Friday he'd signed bills that include requiring universal background checks on gun purchases, a red flag bill to allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from people deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others, and limited handgun purchases to one a month. 

“This is an exciting day for me,” Northam said on a conference call with gun-control advocates. 

Virginia was once a socially conservative state where lawmakers in both parties viewed gun rights as sacrosanct and the National Rifle Association held great sway.

But as the state has grown more urban and suburban, the gun lobby’s influence has waned. A mass shooting last year in Virginia Beach made gun control a front-burning issue in Virginia and heavy spending by groups backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg helped Democrats flip control of the legislature in November.

Gun-control advocates said Friday they’re planning to replicate their success in Virginia in other states. John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said his group plans to spend heavily in key battleground states this year like Arizona, North Carolina and Pennsylvania to elect lawmakers who support new gun restrictions.

Feinblatt said polling shows a gun-control agenda is popular in those states and that Virginia is a “bellwether" of what's to come.

The gun lobby was not totally shut out of Virginia's legislative session and were able to water down many bills backed by Northam.

“While we still don’t like them, they’re not as bad as they once were," said Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

Moderate Democrats also balked at passing one of the most high-profile gun measures debated this year: banning assault weapons like the popular AR-15-style rifles. 

The governor acknowledged that he “came up short” on that legislation but said he will try again next year. 

“I will not stop,” he said.


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