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Virginia’s 2024 Legislative Session Comes to an End: Here’s What to Know About the State of Gun Safety in the Commonwealth

March 11, 2024

Dozens of Gun Safety Bills – Including Several that Passed with Bipartisan Support – Delivered To Governor Youngkin’s Desk; He Has Less Than 30 Days to Act

RICHMOND, VA – As the 2024 legislative session came to a close in Virginia, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action released a new memo highlighting the key moments that demonstrate the power of the gun safety movement. Since lawmakers gaveled in this January, they have been hard at work delivering on voters’ demands in the 2023 elections for stronger gun violence prevention laws by advancing dozens of bills to Governor Youngkin’s desk.

Late Friday night, Governor Youngkin vetoed HB 46 (Del. Bennett-Parker)/SB 47 (Sen. Favola), a bill that would have required convicted domestic abusers to surrender their firearms once they become legally prohibited from possessing them. The bill also would have strengthened existing laws that disarm domestic abusers who are subject to restraining orders. Additionally, Governor Youngkin 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). With more than two dozen gun safety bills remaining that will soon be sent to his desk, including bills that received bipartisan support in the General Assembly, Governor Youngkin still has the opportunity to stand on the side of public safety and sign meaningful gun safety legislation into law. 

“This legislative session proved that the gun safety movement in Virginia is strong, and the lawmakers we voted into office to keep us safe have delivered,” said Ruth Winters, a volunteer with the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We’re disappointed that Governor Youngkin failed to sign the first two gun safety bills that reached his desk into law, but there are still dozens of bills that he can support to stop the spread of gun violence in Virginia. These are measures that Virginians want and deserve in order to keep our communities safe.” 

“Virginia is proof that even in the backyard of the NRA, our gun safety movement grows stronger as the gun lobby’s influence fades,” said Monisha Henley, Senior Vice President of State Government Affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety. “The 2023 elections should serve as a sign for Governor Youngkin that gun safety is a winning issue in the Commonwealth. Now, the Governor has a choice and we are calling on him to listen to the majority of Virginians who are demanding common sense action on gun violence prevention.”

Key Moments From the 2023-2024 Legislative Sessions: 

  • House Lawmakers Fail to Advance Gun Violence Prevention Legislation in 2023
    • During the 2023 legislative session, the gun sense majority in the Senate passed critical gun violence prevention measures including secure storage for firearms, add new safeguards to disarm domestic abusers, prohibit assault weapons and more. However, the House majority – which consisted of lawmakers who were beholden to the gun lobby – failed to advance many of these measures at the expense of the safety of all of our communities with the exception of a tax credit for gun owners who purchase a secure firearm storage device including gun safes, lock boxes and cases. In response, volunteers with Moms Demand Action got to work campaigning to flip the House to a gun sense majority. 
  • Gun Violence Prevention Movement Helps Defend the Senate and Flip the House of Delegates
    • During the 2023 elections, Moms Demand Action volunteers proved that gun safety isn’t just good policy, it’s good politics. Nine Moms Demand Action volunteers were elected to the House of Delegates – flipping the chamber – while helping to defend the majority in the Senate. Moms Demand Action volunteers now make up nearly 20% of the new Gun Sense Majority in the House of Delegates. 
    • 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 propose, underscoring the growing consensus in favor of gun violence prevention.  
  • Progress Made During the 2024 Legislative Session
    • Under the leadership of House Speaker Don Scott and Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell, lawmakers followed through on their commitment to their constituents to keep their communities safe from gun violence – passing dozens of key, lifesaving gun safety bills. 
    • Polling from earlier this year indicated that at least 70% of respondents said they would support legislation that requires Virginia gun owners to securely store their firearms and legislation that prohibits ghost guns – both bills that the General Assembly sent to the Governor’s desk this session. In what once was the backyard of the NRA, Virginia’s lawmakers proved this year that their stronghold is no more. 
    • The General Assembly also passed a budget that makes key investments in community-based violence intervention programs, and sets aside funding to implement some of the gun safety bills they passed this session. 
  • Governor Youngkin Fails to Sign Two Key Gun Safety Bills Delivered to His Desk on an Expedited Timeline 
    • The General Assembly sent two gun safety bills to Governor Youngkin on March 2, which meant that he had seven days to make a decision. These bills included legislation to strengthen Virginia’s prohibitions on possession of firearms by domestic abusers (HB 46, Del. Bennett-Parker/SB 47, Sen. Favola) and to require school boards to annually notify parents about secure storage for firearms (HB 498, Del. Cohen). Against his constituents’ wishes, Governor Youngkin failed to sign these first two bills into law – leaving communities across Virginia more vulnerable to gun violence. 

What’s Left That’s Headed to Governor Youngkin’s Desk 

  • Now that the 2024 legislative session has ended, the General Assembly has sent dozens of gun safety bills to Governor Youngkin’s desk – some with bipartisan support – including measures to prohibit assault weapons, ghost guns, and auto sears, require gun owners to securely store their firearms around children or people legally prohibited from having them, hold bad actors in the firearm industry accountable, support community violence prevention organizations, and more. 
  • Governor Youngkin now has until April 8 to sign them into law in accordance with his constituents’ wishes, or stand in the way of progress by vetoing them. 

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.

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