© 2024
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Youngkin pleases 2A advocates with early veto of new gun laws

Some of the thousands of illegal firearms Chicago police confiscated in 2014.
M. Spencer Green
Some of the thousands of illegal firearms Chicago police confiscated in 2014.

Governor Glenn Youngkin vetoed 8 bills late Friday night. Among them was an effort that would have clarified how to remove guns from those convicted of domestic abuse.

Youngkin’s defended the veto of Democratic Senator Barbara Favola’s effort to clarify courts’ authority to remove firearms from domestic abusers in a statement shortly after vetoing it.

“To avoid inadvertent compromises to public safety, policies should refrain from disarming individuals not subject to a court order, making other family members less safe, which contradicts our shared goal,” the governor said.

But the Favola pushed back on that assessment.

“We used to have bipartisan support for domestic violence and domestic abuse issues, but this seems to be a variance from that position,” the Senator said, calling it a commonsense solution to gun violence.

Youngkin famously spurred an endorsement from the National Rifle Association while on the campaign trail, and even gun rights groups were a bit surprised when he vetoed those efforts Friday.

“We were leaning positive, now we’re leaning way more positive [that] he’s gonna be standing up for gun owners,” said Phil Van Cleave from the Virginia Citizens Defense League in an interview Monday. He said his group hadn’t been in contact with Youngkin’s administration, so they weren’t sure, but Friday’s veto was a good first step to block more than 30 of what Van Cleave called “bad bills” approved by Democrats.

Lori Haas is with the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions. An advocate for more gun laws, she said the 2023 election that saw Youngkin lose Virginia’s legislature to Democrats could repeat itself if he continues this veto trend.

“The voters will be extremely upset and disappointed and blame not only the governor for vetoing the bills that got through, but blame the general assembly members who vote no on these commonsense measures,” she warned.

She also reiterated what she said data showed: “firearms are the number one cause of death for children in the Commonwealth,” Haas said. “As a grandmother and mother, I can’t stomach that.”

One bill that both sides agree on will offer up to 300 dollars in tax rebates for Virginians who buy a gun safe or other storage device. Van Cleave called it a “carrot, not a stick.”

There’s about $5 million in the budget to cover the possible hit on taxes, but Van Cleave isn't sure how many gunowners will take advantage of the new benefit.

But a new safe may come in handy if Youngkin signs a bill that would require such storage if a child were in the home.

One effort Youngkin may not be able to quash is a resolution asking the state’s non-partisan research arm, the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission, to study impacts gun violence has had on the Commonwealth.

Such study requests are not subject to a gubernatorial veto.

“The more information we have the better we can address these public health problems,” Haas said. The study would be the first such completed study on gun violence for Virginia, Haas said.

A 2019 study was ordered from the Crime Commission in the wake of the mass shooting in Virginia Beach. Run by Senator Mark Obenshain and Delegate Robert Bell, both Republicans, the study collected data but “determined that inconclusive evidence exists to develop recommendations.”

A few dozen other gun bills are currently awaiting action from Youngkin with a deadline of April 8th.

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

Corrected: March 11, 2024 at 6:46 PM EDT
Corrects the spelling of the governor's first name.

The due date of the bills has been corrected.
Brad Kutner is Radio IQ's reporter in Richmond.