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Governor Glenn Youngkin Fails to Sign Life-Saving Legislation to Prevent Gun Violence in Virginia; Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond 

March 8, 2024

Dozens More Gun Safety Measures Still Heading for Governor’s Desk Where He Can Sign Them and Save Lives

RICHMOND, VA – Today, the Virginia chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, issued the following statement after Governor Glenn Youngkin vetoed a critical piece of legislation — HB 46 (Del. Bennett-Parker)/SB 47 (Sen. Favola) — that would have required convicted domestic abusers to surrender their firearms once they become legally prohibited from possessing them and strengthened existing laws that disarm domestic abusers who are subject to restraining orders. He also failed to sign a bill to require school boards to educate parents and caregivers about the importance of secure firearm storage, HB 498 (Del. Cohen). Today’s decisions come after gun sense lawmakers in the General Assembly passed dozens of critical measures to address gun violence in the Commonwealth. His failure to sign these bills also comes on the same day as a shooting in downtown Richmond, only steps from the statehouse, killed one person. 

“Today’s decisions from Governor Youngkin are disappointing, and a disregard of the will of the voters,” said Mike Fox, a volunteer with the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We demonstrated in the 2023 elections when we helped flip the House of Delegates to a gun sense majority that Governor Youngkin’s guns everywhere agenda isn’t welcome in the Commonwealth and that voters want leaders who will make stronger gun safety laws a reality. Thanks to the leadership of our legislators, there are still many lifesaving gun violence prevention bills on the way to Governor Youngkin’s desk. He’ll have another opportunity to do the right thing and support our efforts to make our communities safer by signing those bills into law.”

“It’s frustrating that the Governor would choose not to sign such basic, common-sense gun safety laws,” said Grace Varughese, a volunteer with Hayfield Secondary School Students Demand Action chapter. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t be informing people that secure firearm storage saves lives or keeping individuals with violent histories from accessing a gun. It’s just common sense. With more gun safety bills headed to Governor Youngkin’s desk, we implore him to get it right next time by signing these bills into law.”  

In 2023, Virginia voters flipped the House of Delegates back to a gun sense majority. In fact, nine Moms Demand Action volunteers were elected last cycle and now make up nearly 20 percent of the Virginia House Democratic caucus. This year, gun sense champions have made up for two years of stalled progress by advancing bills to prohibit ghost guns and assault weapons, require the secure storage of firearms in homes with children or prohibited persons, support and expand  community violence prevention organizations, hold bad actors in the gun industry accountable when their misconduct harms Virginians, and keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, among others. 

Polling from the past year demonstrated that gun violence prevention is overwhelmingly popular in the Commonwealth. Polling conducted by Everytown prior to the 2023 elections showed that 80%+ of battleground district voters said a candidate’s position on guns was highly important, and those voters supported strengthening gun laws by more than two to one. In a poll conducted after the 2023 elections, 83% of gun policy voters said they would like Virginia’s gun laws to be made stronger or kept as they are now, rather than weakened as many Republicans proposed, underscoring the growing consensus in favor of gun violence prevention. 

In an average year in Virginia, 1,121 people die by guns and 1,911 people are wounded. Gun violence costs Virginia $14.2 billion each year, of which $288.3 million is paid by taxpayers. More information about gun violence in Virginia is available here.

To speak to a local volunteer with Moms Demand Action, a volunteer with Students Demand Action, or a policy expert, please don’t hesitate to reach out. 

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