RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark R. Herring challenged the General Assembly on Wednesday to approve legislation to keep firearms out of the hands of people who have committed domestic violence.
The two Democrats spoke at a news conference where a study was released showing that of the 109 family and “intimate partner” homicides in Virginia in 2014, 64 were committed with a firearm. The report by the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence was released ahead of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, October.
The authors of the study wrote that “Virginia’s legislators have done next to nothing to prevent run-related tragedies in the home.” They added, “It is still far too easy for domestic abusers to purchase and possess firearms, often illegally.”
The advocacy group proposed a series of proposals to close what it called the state’s “lethal loopholes,” all of which have previously failed in the General Assembly.
“If these laws were passed,” McAuliffe said, “they would have a far-reaching effect on protecting our loved ones from harm. “Unfortunately, our state legislators have heard most of these proposals before and they have done absolutely nothing to turn these common-sense ideas into law.”
Among the bills proposed by the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, and endorsed by Herring and McAuliffe, are measures that would prohibit someone who is named in a protective order from possessing firearms and prohibit someone convicted of certain misdemeanors – such as stalking – from purchasing or possessing a firearm for at least five years.
Herring and McAuliffe clearly put the onus on the General Assembly to act.
“This question is a very simple one: Do you stand with the victims of domestic violence or do you stand with their abusers?” Herring asked. “Once again legislators will have a chance to show who they stand with.”
McAuliffe acknowledged the odds are stacked against them in the General Assembly.
“You don’t give up,” he said of the renewed push. “Domestic abusers should not own firearms. That, to me, is basic common sense.”
Rep. Todd Gilbert, a Shenandoah County Republican who voted against some of the proposed legislation, said nothing had changed his mind on the domestic violence gun legislation. He stated in an interview, as McAuliffe had noted, that many of the provisions are already covered by federal law.
“This is a very emotional tactic that is nothing more than the new front on which to fight for the anti-gun left,” he said. “I don’t believe you stop bad people from hurting other people by passing another law.”
Steve Szkotak can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sszkotakap.
(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)