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Full Senate, committee make decisions on gun bills

Assault weapons and hand guns for sale.
Seth Perlman
Assault weapons and hand guns for sale.

Republicans are hoping to get rid of Virginia's new red flag law, which allows law enforcement officials to temporarily confiscate guns from people who are a danger to themselves or others. They also want to reverse legislation passed in the last few years that restricts where guns can be carried.

Senator Amanda Chase is a Republican from Chesterfield who wants to remove the ability of local governments to ban guns in the public square. "When you go to localities like Richmond, where I work, they tell you that you cannot carry a firearm," Chase testified to a Senate committee. "Now what happens to someone like myself, a small female who has PTSD because they were assaulted on Capitol grounds."

Lori Haas at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions says local governments know best what local constituents want. "There are equally as many people if not more persons who in these public spaces when they have family members with them, often young children, don't want firearms in the public square," Haas argued. "They don't want firearms at the playground. They don't want firearms at a permitted family event or a farmer's markets. Local county and city boards are responding to their voters and what their voters want. "

Democrats rejected Chase’s bill in a committee, but senators are sending two other bills to the House of Delegates. One would prohibit assault weapons in public spaces, and the other would clarify what the judge can consider in red-flag cases. Neither are expected to get very far in a Republican-controlled House.

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.