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On Press Call With Everytown and Moms Demand Action, Governor Northam Announces he has Signed Critical Gun Safety Legislation

April 10, 2020

Signings are a Landmark Moment in Virginia Legislative History After Moms Demand Action Volunteers  Held Accountable — and Replaced — Lawmakers for Inaction In NRA’s Backyard

Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund was the Largest Outside Spender in Virginia’s 2019 Elections, Spending $2.5 Million to Flip Virginia’s General Assembly

Virginia Becomes the 19th State to Enact an Extreme Risk Law and the 22nd State to Require a Background Check on All Handgun Sales; the District of Columbia Also Has Both Policies

RICHMOND, Va. — Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action, a part of Everytown, today applauded the signing of a slate of gun safety bills, including legislation to require background checks on all gun sales and extreme risk legislation.

Governor Northam joined a press call today with Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety, Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, and Jennifer Herrera, a volunteer with the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action to discuss this session’s historic action on gun safety legislation in Virginia, and what’s to come for the gun violence prevention movement. Transcript available on request.

“We lose too many Virginians to gun violence, and it is past time we took bold, meaningful action to make our communities safer,” said Governor Northam. “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.”

“In November, Virginians called out loud and clear for meaningful legislation to address gun violence in the Commonwealth. They demanded action and we delivered,” said Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn. “I am grateful to the Governor for his leadership and for signing these bills that will save lives.”

“The passage of these landmark laws is a hard-fought and long overdue tribute to the victims and survivors of Virginia Tech, Virginia Beach, and scores of other shootings that never made the headlines,” said John Feinblatt, head of Everytown for Gun Safety. “The fact that the NRA suffered such a decisive loss in its own backyard is further proof that the political calculus on gun safety has undergone a seismic shift, and legislators in other states should take notice.”

“If you need proof that gun safety is a winning issue, look no further than Virginia,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Gun violence was the number one voting issue for Virginians in 2019, helping to flip the General Assembly to a gun sense majority. NRA-backed lawmakers underestimated the determination of parents, students and gun violence survivors to do whatever it takes to keep their families safe. They sent a signal to their lawmakers, which should resonate everywhere: do your jobs, or we will replace you with people who will.”

“For years, we watched as lawmakers made backroom deals and refused to consider legislation that could save lives,” said Jennifer Herrera,a volunteer leader with the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Every step they took to weaken our gun laws gave us another reason to replace them. In November, Virginians voted for a new direction, and as a result, we’ve made the Commonwealth a safer place.”

Everytown and the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action have fought for common-sense gun safety laws in the Commonwealth for years. In the past year alone:

  • This past summer, volunteers attended the special session on gun violence called after the mass shooting in Virginia Beach, only to see session adjourn after 90 minutes without taking a single vote
  • Lawmakers’ failure to take action on gun violence drove Moms Demand Action and Everytown to launch a statewide campaign to flip the General Assembly to a gun sense majority. Everytown for Gun Safety Action and Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund spent more than $2.5 million — the largest outside investment in Virginia’s 2020 elections
  • Volunteers with Moms Demand Action knocked on tens of thousands of doors and made tens of thousands of calls to elect gun sense champions. Overall, Everytown outspent the NRA by more than eight-to-one, and Moms Demand Action out-organized the NRA on the ground.
  • On the first day of the 2020 legislative session, the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action held their annual advocacy day and had more than 70 meetings with lawmakers to show their support. 
  • In January, as gun extremists descended on Richmond, Virginia to intimidate lawmakers, Moms Demand Action held a phone bank to support lawmakers who have stood up for common-sense gun safety policies. More than 100 volunteers with Moms Demand Action from Virginia and 23 states made nearly 3,000 calls that day alone.

As a result of today’s signing, 19 states and the District of Columbia have now passed extreme risk legislation. Fourteen of these laws have been passed since the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Virginia is the 22nd state to enact legislation to require background checks on all handgun sales.

More than 600 people die from gun suicide every year in Virginia. In a moment of crisis, access to a gun can be the difference between life and death. About 90 percent of suicide attempts using a gun end in death, compared to four percent of suicide attempts that do not involve a firearm. Under an extreme risk law, law enforcement will be able to petition a court for an extreme risk protection order to temporarily remove guns from a person in crisis.

An Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund investigation uncovered nearly 1.2 million ads in 2018 alone on the website Armslist for firearm sales that would not legally require a background check. Those ads included 43,558 ads for guns for sale in Virginia.

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