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Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee Advances Life-Saving Gun Safety Bills Including Strengthening Secure Storage Laws, Disarming Domestic Abusers, Expanding Extreme Risk Laws and Prohibiting Ghost Guns

January 23, 2023

The Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement applauding the Senate Judiciary Committee for their swift action to pass gun safety legislation that will require firearms to be securely stored in homes when a minor is present, add new safeguards to disarm domestic abusers, prohibit the unserialized, untraceable parts that are used to build ghost guns, and expand the types of evidence the court can consider when evaluating whether an individual poses a risk of harming themselves or others to issue an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO). 

“We had a tragic start to the year when a six year old accessed a gun and was able to shoot and wound his teacher and we are grateful that the Senate Judiciary Committee is meeting this moment by working to strengthen Virginia’s secure firearm storage law and other life saving gun safety measures,” said Anastasia Dzura, a volunteer with the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We hope that the House will follow the Senate’s lead and fulfill their duty to keep our communities safe.”  

Secure Storage: 

  • An estimated 54 percent of gun owners don’t store all of their firearms securely.
  • In incidents of targeted school violence, around three-quarters of school shooters obtained their gun(s) from the home of a parent or close relative.
  • SB 1139 will require that any person who possesses a firearm in a residence with a minor under the age of 18 present must store such firearm unloaded in a locked container, compartment, or cabinet and to store all ammunition in a separate locked container, compartment, or cabinet. 

Disarming Domestic Abusers 

  • Domestic violence and guns are deeply interconnected, impacting millions of women, families, and communities across the U.S. 
  • Guns are more likely to turn abuse fatal. Access to a gun makes it five times more likely that a woman will die at the hands of a domestic abuser.
  • In 2019, at least 42 people in Virginia died by intimate partner homicide. At least 69 percent of these intimate partner homicides involved a firearm.
  • SB 909 would add new safeguards to the firearm relinquishment process already required for domestic abusers who are subject to protective orders, and would extend that clear and strong firearm surrender process to newly-convicted abusers.

Ghost Guns: 

  • Ghost guns are do-it-yourself, homemade guns made from easy-to-get building blocks that can be purchased with no background check and no questions asked. These guns are made by an individual, not a federally licensed manufacturer or importer.
  • Ghost guns also undermine the work of law enforcement. Because ghost guns have no serial numbers, it is impossible for law enforcement to effectively trace these firearms when they are used to commit crimes.
  • SB 1181 will prohibit the unserialized, untraceable parts that are used to build ghost guns. 

Extreme Risk Laws 

  • Extreme Risk laws empower loved ones or law enforcement to intervene and temporarily prevent someone in crisis from accessing firearms. These laws, sometimes referred to as “red flag” laws, can help de-escalate emergency situations. 
  • Virginia currently has an Extreme Risk law that empowers law enforcement officials to seek a “Substantial Risk Order” when they recognize dangerous warning signs.
  • SB 1076 will make the current law more comprehensive by expanding the types of evidence the court can consider when evaluating whether an individual poses a risk of harming themselves or others and deciding whether to issue an Extreme Risk Protection Order. 

In an average year, 1,065 people die by guns in Virginia, and 1,911 more are wounded. Gun violence costs Virginia $14.2 billion each year, of which $288.3 million is paid by taxpayers. More information on gun violence in Virginia is available

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