State Senate Advances Gun Bills

Feb 26, 2020

The new Democratic majorities in the House and Senate are moving forward with a long list of gun control bills.

And the votes are not as party-line as you might imagine. 

Democrats won power in the House and Senate in part by running on gun control. But it’s not a strictly partisan issue.

On Wednesday, Republican Senator Siobhan Dunnavant of Henrico County voted in favor of a bill that would increase penalties for people who allow access to firearms by children.  “I believe in prevention. I believe in safety," Dunnavant said afterward. "I definitely think that responsible gun owners I know make sure that kids in their homes can’t get access. I think this is a good policy, and so I support making it a higher penalty because I want to make sure we avoid any kind of injury.”

She was the lone Republican vote in the Senate in favor of that bill.

On the other side of the aisle is Senator Chap Petersen of Fairfax City. He was the lone Democrat to vote against a bill requiring people to report lost or stolen firearms within 48 hours.  “We don’t do that for any other personal or consumer property. I mean if I lose my car or lose my child or lose anything else in the world, we don’t have that. Typically when you lose an item, it takes you a few days to even realize it in the first place. So I think a law like this is practically unenforceable,” Petersen argued.

Democrats hold such a slim majority in the Senate that Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax had to break the tied vote on that one.

A third bill that allows local governments to enact firearm restrictions also passed the Senate.  But an amendment was added that will require additional votes in the House of Delegates.  Republican Senator Tommy Norment went along wtih the chamber's Democrats on that bill.

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