Bills that would ban the sale and manufacture of commonly owned firearms, restrict where lawful and licensed gun owners can carry, establish a waiting period, and more are headed for their first committee hearing in Richmond, Virginia on Monday. The Senate Courts of Justice meeting kicks off at 8 a.m. Monday morning with a full slate of Second Amendment infringements on tap, along with a pair of pro-Second Amendment measures that are unlikely to survive their initial encounter with the Democrat-majority committee.
No, the real question is whether any of the 16 gun control bills will garner enough Democratic opposition to defeat the measures in committee. As a Virginia resident, my hope would be that every one of these proposals would be shot down; both to keep my rights intact and my tax dollars from going to defend these unconstitutional infringements if Gov. Glenn Youngkin were to allow any of them to go into law. As the Virginia Citizens Defense League summarized in an alert to members:
SB 319 is probably the least objectionable of these, but even that has some serious defects. I don’t know that the bill is automatically unconstitutional under Bruen, and the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Rahimi, which deals with gun prohibitions on those subject to domestic violence restraining orders, will likely shed some light on the standard that should be used for prohibiting individuals from exercising their Second Amendment rights. The bill wouldn’t permanently prohibit someone convicted of the misdemeanor crime of assault and battery on a dating partner from owning a firearm, but they would still be barred from lawfully purchasing or possessing a firearm for three years following their conviction. At the very least, legislators should hold off and see what guidance the Court has to offer here, but I doubt that’s going to happen.
The other bills, on the other hand, are all pretty clearly on the wrong side of the Bruen decision and are all lawsuits waiting to happen if they’re enacted into law. Gun bans, waiting periods, “gun-free zones”, “red flag” laws, banning young adults from exercising their 2A rights; the vast majority of these are already subject to post-Bruen litigation, and we’ve seen courts around the country declare many of these policies a violation of the right to keep and bear arms.
While the Senate is taking up its gun control agenda on Monday, Democrats in narrow control of the House of Delegates are a little further along with their schemes. As the Virginia Shooting Sports Association reports, the House Public Safety Committee rubber-stamped its own stack of infringements on Friday.
All of these are offensive to our rights, but HB 466 is a particular petty attack on our right to carry that forbids reciprocity agreements with other states unless their criteria to carry meets or exceeds those in Virginia.
I know that Youngkin has said the state’s gun laws are tough enough, but past statements aren’t always indicative of future performance, and gun owners shouldn’t be silent now even if they believe the governor has their back. Legislators need to hear from us, even (and maybe especially) those of us who live in blue districts.
Lawful gun owners aren’t a problem that needs to be solved, but we do have a couple of crises that are in desperate need of serious attention by lawmakers in Richmond. If they want to “do something” to improve our lives and safety, it’s time to give serious attention to the opioid epidemic and crumbling mental health system in the Commonwealth instead of channeling the spirit of Harry Byrd and engaging in massive resistance to a Supreme Court decision protecting individual rights.