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Friday, February 16, 2024

Legislative Update for February 16

We are now on the downhill side of the 2024 legislative session with the House and Senate now only considering bills from the other side.  This morning House Public Safety met at 8:00 AM and considered several Senate gun control bills with no public comment as all of the bills on the docket were either identical to or very similar to bills already passed by the House.  This really isn't unusual as they believe they heard all of the arguments during the first half of the session and there is a time crunch to finish the work before the session adjourns.  VSSA's focus now will be on the Governor's office as it is likely that gun ban bills that passed one house during the first half of the session are going to be passed by the other house.  The worst bills (it's almost hard to pick just one but these House and Senate companion bills rate at the top of the list) that are still moving are HB2 and SB2:

HB2/SB2, Introduced by Delegate Helmer and Senator Deeds would ban the purchase, possession, sale, transfer, transport, import, or manufacturing of "assault-style" weapons. It also prohibits a person who violates this from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm for 3 years after the date of conviction. The legislation would also ban the sale of a "large capacity" ammunition feeding device and prohibits people younger than 21 from importing, selling, manufacturing, purchasing, possessing, transporting, or transferring a firearm. During debate on SB2, Senator Surovell argued that absolute rights do not exist - and that they all exist with some underlying restriction or regulation (ex. freedom of speech and hate speech); therefore the 2nd amendment should not be treated as an absolute right. The bill ultimately passed in the Senate on a party line vote and is now headed to the house (and HB2 is headed to the Senate) where both will most likely to pass as well.

The Governor will have to use his veto pen on them!

There was some small pieces of good news during the first half as a couple of really bad bills did not make it out of the house of origin before crossover.  A couple aren't completely dead as they were carried over to next year, but they are currently on life support.  Those bills are:

HB 270 - Sale, transfer, etc., of certain firearms and firearm magazines; Virginia Firearm Buy-Back Program and Fund established; penalties. This is an omnibus bills that includes semi-auto and magazine bans, waiting periods, and more.  This bill was carried over to 2025.

HB 319 - Firearms instructors and safety programs; National Rifle Association and United States Concealed Carry Association. This bill removes references to the National Rifle Association (the NRA) and the United States Concealed Carry Association from the Code that allow the organizations to certify ranges and instructors and for courses offered by them to serve as proof of demonstrated competence in firearms safety and training for the purpose of obtaining a concealed handgun permit or receiving training as a minor in the use of pneumatic guns.  This bill was carried over to to 2025 (HB 797 which does the same thing and also requires 10 rounds of live fire as part of the training did pass however).

HB 602 - Virginia Center for Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention; Virginia Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention Fund; creation; This bill creates a government agency, the Virginia Center for Firearm Violence and Prevention that would make grants to push gun control responses to crime involving firearms.  This bill was carried over to to 2025.

The below bills were defeated:

HB 113 - Possession, purchase, or transportation of handgun by persons convicted of certain drug offenses and operating a boat or vehicle while intoxicated prohibited; penalty. This bill would have taken away gun rights for misdemeanor drunk driving. 

HB 791 - Pneumatic guns; penalties. This bill would have made it  a Class 6 felony to possess a pneumatic gun ( BB gun or air rifle/air pistol).  It is interesting to note that this bill was reported out of Public Safety and referred to Appropriations.  Appropriations added language that changed the prohibitions for day care and private schools which only applies to when these schools are in session to a complete prohibition unless it is part of a program.  When it came up on first reading in the full house it was re-referred to Public Safety.  Because this was done the day before the last day to consider legislation in committee, it died because there was not time for both Public Safety and Appropriations to reconsider the bill.

You can see the complete list of bills that passed and have crossed over by clicking here.  VSSA will alert members when bills have passed both Houses and have been sent to the Governor so that you can contact Governor Youngkin and politely urge him to veto the bad bills.

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