Youngkin vetoes assault weapon ban and dozens of gun bills, signs four

Gun Rights

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed four gun safety bills into law on Tuesday and vetoed dozens of others.

His actions elicited praise from gun safety advocates and condemnation from Democratic lawmakers who said his efforts to stem gun violence did not go far enough.

Bills that prevent parents from willfully allowing a child who poses a credible threat of violence to access a firearm and bills that prohibit an auto sear, an illegal device which converts firearms into an automatic weapon, were the legislation signed into law.

“I swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of Virginia, and that absolutely includes protecting the right of law-abiding Virginians to keep and bear arms,”Youngkin said in a statement Tuesday. He noted he was pleased to sign the four “common sense reforms” into law.

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Democrats say vetoes aren’t ‘tough on crime’

Democrats in the House of Delegates blasted Youngkin’s veto of dozens of gun safety laws.

“I am ashamed of the Governor’s vetoes today,” House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, D – Alexandria, said in a statement. “Youngkin and Virginia Republicans across the state ran on a platform claiming to be ‘tough on crime,’ yet refuse to acknowledge they need to join us to stem the tide of gun violence.”

House Speaker Don Scott, D – Portsmouth, noted that the “vetoes remove the tools necessary” to end gun violence.

Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mamie Locke, D – Hampton, called the vetoes a “dangerous refusal to acknowledge the need for reforms that protect us all.”

“Unfortunately, we have a governor who chooses to prioritize political interests over the lives and safety of the people he swore to serve,” she said.

Sen. Suhas Subramanyam, D – Ashburn, patron of two of the bills signed into law and three of the bills vetoed, said he was glad for the bills that were signed but called on the governor and the legislature to “do better.”

“I want my two girls to live in a future where they feel safe in their schools instead of needing armed security, active shooter drills, and bulletproof windows,” he said.  

Hopeful gun safety advocates heap praise

Advocates saw the four signed laws as a turning of the political tide surrounding gun safety. They lauded the governor for signing a handful of bills into law and noted that the dozens of vetoes were indications that the work is not yet over.

“It speaks volumes about the changing political calculus around gun safety that the Republican governor of Virginia, which is the longtime home of the NRA, just signed legislation to prevent gun violence,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety said in a statement, referring to the four bills. “We applaud Governor Youngkin and the bipartisan group of lawmakers who championed these laws, and we urge them to keep listening to voter demands for common-sense solutions to gun violence.”

“These new laws represent real bipartisan progress and I’m glad to see Governor Youngkin enacting them to keep Virginians safe from gun violence,” Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action, said in a statement. “Our advocacy doesn’t stop here — we’ll continue fighting to ensure that the other lifesaving gun safety measures passed this session become law next year.”

“Getting two gun safety bills signed by Governor Youngkin is a step in the right direction. It shows that we don’t have to accept America’s gun violence crisis as inevitable,” Grace Varughese, a volunteer with the Hayfield chapter of Secondary School Students Demand Action, said in a statement. ”While we’re happy these bills are now law, we can’t ignore that the Governor also vetoed a lot of other bills that could’ve saved lives. Our work doesn’t stop here.”

Gun safety amendments and a list of vetoes

Youngkin also amended six pieces of gun safety legislation which if adopted, he said, “will make it harder for criminals to use guns in the commission of a violent act.”

Those amendments include measures that would: Create penalties for people convicted of a crime from carrying weapons into a mental health facility; align a bill with federal law that would prohibit the possession, sale or transfer of a firearm with the serial number removed or altered; establishes a “knowledge standard” within a bill that would ban “ghost guns” — guns built with 3D printed parts, or parts that cannot be traced with a serial number.

The bills vetoed include the following:

  • HB2 and SB2: Legislation that would have banned assault firearms.
  • HB454 and SB383: Legislation that would have prohibited firearms on college and university campuses.
  • HB585: Legislation that would have prohibited home-based firearms dealers from being located within a 1.5-mile distance from any elementary or middle school.
  • HB797: Legislation that would have required live-fire training exercises among courses required to receive a concealed carry permit.
  • HB799: Legislation that would have included fingerprinting in the concealed carry permit application process.
  • HB318 and SB491: Legislation that would have created conduct and manufacture standards for members of the firearm industry, as well as civil liability.
  • HB466: Legislation that would have compelled the Superintendent of State Police and the Office of the Attorney General to determine whether states meet certain qualifications for Virginia to recognize the concealed handgun permit of a person from another state. 
  • HB1195 and SB273: Legislation that would have established a waiting period of five days before the sale of a firearm.
  • HB183 and SB368: Legislation that would have required firearms to be in locked storage in a residence where a youth or person prohibited from possessing a gun is present.
  • HB1462 and SB447: Legislation that would have created a civil penalty for people who leave their firearms unattended and visible in their vehicle.
  • HB939: Legislation that would have Prohibited possession of a firearm within 100 feet of election polling places and early in-person voting precincts.
  • SB338: Legislation that would have required the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to study the effect of gun violence on communities.  
  • HB175 and SB99: Legislation that would have prohibited the carrying of assault firearms in public.
  • HB1174 and SB327: Legislation that would have increased the age requirement to purchase any firearm to 21 years old.
  • HB362 and SB642: Legislation that would have prohibited any person who was convicted of a misdemeanor for assault or battery of an intimate partner, family or household member from purchasing, possessing or transporting a firearm.
  • HB798: Legislation that would have expanded on HB362 and SB642 to include stalking.
  • HB351: Legislation that would have required a locking device on a firearm that is kept in a household where a youth resides.
  • HB1386: Legislation that would have required workplaces to abide by the requirements and ordinances of their locality, regarding the public carrying of firearms.
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