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Bill requiring safe storage of firearms clears Senate, faces uphill battle in House

Alan Diaz
This Wednesday, June 29, 2016, photo shows guns on display at a gun store.

The recent shooting at a Newport News elementary school has some calling for safe storage requirements for firearms.

Guns and ammunition should be locked up in houses that have children or anybody that should not have access to firearms. That’s according to a bill that was introduced by Senator Jennifer Boysko, a Democrat from Herndon.

"This means that when you get home from wherever you were with your gun, you need to lock it away and when you are leaving and ready to put it back on, you put it on your person," Boysko said. "But in the home, the gun has to be stored if you know there are going to be children or prohibited people."

Republicans are worried that law-abiding people might get caught up accidentally violating the new law if it were to pass. Senator Richard Stuart is a Republican from King George County who wondered what would happen if he were to go hunting with a teenager and then return to the home.

"If that shell was in the pocket of the hunting coat, I'm now guilty of a criminal offense," Stuart argued. "And I've never been guilty of a criminal offense in my life, and I don't want to be now. And so that's what happens. This is a trap for the unwary. You are setting honest law-abiding citizens up to be convicted of a crime."

The bill passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote, but House Republicans seem unlikely to approve any new restriction on guns heading into an election year.

Also Tuesday, the Senate approved legislation banning the sale of assault-style weapons.

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.