A new legislative session means law-abiding gun owners in Virginia need to be on guard for the latest assault on the Second Amendment. There were many bills proposed in the 2020 legislative session that could have affected your gun rights. While some passed in 2020, several did not.
In this article we will look at what passed and what failed in 2020, and we will highlight some of the proposals that could reappear in the 2021 legislative session. Keep in mind that even if these bills are proposed again, they would have a long way to go before they became law.
Legislation Passed in Virginia
One of the most important pieces of legislation passed in 2020 that negatively affects gun owners is the Emergency Substantial Risk Order (“ESRO”) or Red Flag law. See Va. Ann. Code § 19.2-152.13. This law allows the Commonwealth to confiscate or prohibit the purchase, possession, or transfer of firearms from a person that a judge or magistrate deems to be a substantial risk to themselves or others, without prior notice, and to hold the firearms for up to 14 days, or until a hearing is held on the matter. The 2020 legislative session also saw the passing of bills that allowed local governments to control firearms in certain areas (city parks, permitted event areas, and buildings owned or used by the government) as well as laws prohibiting the private sale of firearms. See Va. Ann. Code § 15.2-915 and § 18.2-308.2:5.
Additionally, the Virginia legislature passed laws that restrict residents of the Old Dominion to buying one handgun per month (unless an exception, such as possessing a valid permit, applies) and eliminating the ability to take concealed carry courses online for purposes of obtaining a Concealed Handgun Permit (“CHP”). See Va. Ann. Code § 18.2-308.2:2(R); § 18.2-308.02 and § 18.2-308.06.
Failed Bills to Keep an Eye On
Not every anti-gun bill proposed in 2020 passed. With the same party and leaders in power, however, the failed bills from 2020 give us insight into what we might expect in 2021. We anticipate some of the most restrictive failed bills will reemerge in substantially the same format as in the prior legislative session, including SB16 (2020) and HB961 (2020). Both bills target “assault weapons” and “high capacity” magazines and are likely to pop back up.
Another anti-gun bill that failed in 2020 but may reemerge is HB569. This bill, if passed, would allow the attorney general to remove reciprocity agreements with other states, thereby dramatically reducing the number of states recognizing a Virginia CHP.
While at the time of writing this article the above uber-restrictive bills have not resurfaced, there have already been some anti-gun bills filed.
Some of the worst include:
- HB2276 would make it unlawful to possess, sell, or transfer an unfinished frame or receiver, or firearm manufactured after October 22, 1968, that does not have a serial number from a licensed manufacturer or importer. This essentially makes it unlawful for someone to make or possess a home-made firearm.
- HB2295 would ban firearms in Capitol Square and the surrounding area, as well as state owned parking lots.
- HB1909 would allow any school board to prohibit possession of a firearm on any property that it owns or leases outside of school zones, similar to the way in which they prohibit firearms inside school zones.
Remember, these are not the only anti-gun bills that have or will be filed. Gun owners must remain vigilant to learn what laws are proposed as the legislative session runs from January 13th through February 27th.
Federal Proposals on the Horizon
Last session, the 116th U.S. Congress proposed assault weapons bans, red flag orders, mandatory reporting of NICS denials to law enforcement, and countless other anti-2A legislation. All of these individual proposals were awful, but none were worse than the omnibus HR 5717 (Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act of 2020), which would have incorporated the worst provisions of each of these proposals. If you want a preview of what anti-gun bills filed during the 117th Congress could look like, pay attention to HR 5717. The 117th Congress was sworn in on January 3, 2021, and their term ends on January 3, 2023. To learn about how federal law is made, check out The Legislative Process by the United States House of Representatives, and stay tuned. We are keeping a close watch for bills and resolutions that would affect Second Amendment rights.
Should you have any questions about the bills discussed or the legislative process, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
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