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"Red Flag" Laws, Background Checks Passed in House Committee

Hand guns in a store
Another slate of gun control measures passed in a House committee meeting today. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM)

A committee of the Virginia House of Delegates passed a handful of gun control bills Friday that are among Democrat’s top priorities this year. The committee okayed a bill to allow extreme risk protection orders, also known as a “red flag” law, and another to require universal background checks, among others.

Long-time gun control advocate Andrew Goddard said this is the 13th year he’s asked the General Assembly for background checks. It’s something, he says, polls show Virginians want. 

“The green button you’re going to press represents 92 percent of Virginians,” Goddard said. “If you press the red button, you say you represent the balance of 8 percent.”

But many gun rights supporters say “red flag” laws lack due process. 

And Philip Van Cleave with the Virginia Citizens Defense League said universal background checks will lead to a gun registry and ultimately confiscation. 

“Right now, because private sales don’t have to go through the background check, the government doesn’t know exactly what guns somebody has, which is exactly what we want,” he said. 

The State Senate has already approved a version of both of these bills, as well as a measure to authorize local governments to ban guns in public places. 

Other gun-related measures that passed Friday include a bill to increase penalties for allowing a child under the age of 18 to access a loaded, unsecured weapon and a bill requiring gun owners to report their lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement.