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Another General Assembly Session is Likely to Pass Without Any Movement On Gun Control

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AP Photo / Steve Helber
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Lawmakers in Richmond are getting ready to wrap up the General Assembly session and head home without taking any action on gun control.

What happens when a troubled person is raising red flags to family members and friends? In some states, they can go to police and get a risk warrant so law enforcement officials can confiscate their guns. Not in Virginia. Delegate Rip Sullivan, a Democrat from Arlington, introduced a bill that would have created risk warrants in Virginia. But it went nowhere.

“A bill like this in Florida just might have stopped Parkland. And a bill like this in Virginia just might have stop the next one. But 198 never got a hearing.”

That would be House Bill 198. The Department of Planning and Budget estimates that setting up a system of risk warrants would cost about half a million dollars. Republican Delegate Rob Bell of Charlottesville says Sullivan’s bill never got a hearing because of its price tag.

“We didn’t take it up because it has a fiscal impact and there wasn’t money in the budget, and I think we counted 46 bills that didn’t get out of Courts because they had a fiscal impact including some of mine. But the Rules Committee will have to decide whether they want to do something with that.”

Don’t hold your breath on that one. Republican leaders say it’s simply too late in the session to consider new legislation, and the rules won’t allow it. Democrats say Republicans can change the rules anytime they want if they wanted to take action.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.