RICHMOND--Virginia Democrats continue to move forward with their package of gun control bills after a gun-rights rally on Monday drew an estimated 22,000 people to Richmond.
The state Senate on Wednesday approved a “red flag” law that would allow for the removal of guns through a legal warrant from a person deemed “a substantial risk of injury to himself or others” through what is called an “extreme risk protective order.” The Senate backed the measure in a 21-19, party line vote.
Senate Bill 240 from Sen. George Barker, D-Fairfax, heads to the House of Delegates, which is considering its own version of the measure.
Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington, said that while the bill “may not be perfect,” it is a “step forward.”
“Please, give us the tools to make our communities safer,” she said.
The bill, which allows the person subject to the order to voluntarily turn over their guns, was tweaked Tuesday from its initial version to create an intervening step in which law enforcement must obtain a warrant before returning to search a person’s home for firearms.
Republicans criticized the bill as an infringement on people’s rights.
“The Second Amendment is non-negotiable,” said Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, who asserted that anyone who voted for the bill was a “traitor” against the state.
Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, responded: "I would like [Chase] to know that I am deeply offended that she has accused anyone on this floor of treason.”
Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, a former police officer, raised issue with the bill, noting that it does not include mental health help for people subject to the orders.
“We’ve got to find a better way,” he said. “Without that aspect, we’re just going to take firearms.”
Seventeen states have a version of a “red flag” law. Connecticut had the first such law, enacting it in 1999. California, Indiana, Oregon and Washington were the only other states to have a “red flag” law in place before the 2018 Parkland school shooting, when a former student, who police had been warned might carry out a school shooting, killed 17 people.
On Wednesday afternoon a Senate committee is slated to take up bills related to lost and stolen guns, penalizing adults for allowing children access to guns, and disarming people subject to protection orders, among other things.