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Republicans could work to roll back Virginia's red flag law

Gun Control
Cliff Owen/AP
FR170079 AP
A Glock 30SF .45 Auto semi-automatic pistol with a standard ten-round magazine is seen with .45 Auto full metal jacket ball ammunition, in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Now that Republicans are about to come into power in Richmond, many of the new laws passed by Democrats may be reconsidered. There's at least one gun violence prevention measure that some are hoping to overturn.

Since Virginia's new red flag law was signed by the governor last year, law enforcement officials across Virginia have issued 170 emergency substantial risk orders — temporarily removing firearms from people who courts have determined to be dangerous. That includes 32 in Fairfax County, 16 in Prince William County and 13 in Virginia Beach.

Lori Haas at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence says the new law is working in red Virginia and blue Virginia.

"If a person is at risk of harm to self or others, it would be prudent for family members and loved ones and law enforcement to temporarily separate him or her from his firearm so that until the crisis passes, the person is not at risk of injury or death to him or herself or others," Hass says.


Philip Van Cleve at the Virginia Citizens Defense League says the new law is not protecting anyone.

"Red flag laws leave the person in crisis alone. They don't do anything to them," Van Cleve explains. "They can still kill themselves. They do nothing except take his guns away."

Now, Senate Democrats needed the tie-breaking vote of Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax to pass the bill. Now that a new Republican lieutenant governor is about to take his spot, though, that means Republicans may have the votes to overturn the red flag law if they can get the bill to the Senate floor.

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