RICHMOND – As the nation continues to reel from the unspeakable act of gun violence in Las Vegas that cost 59 people their lives and injured hundreds more, Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that he has directed his public safety team to draft and introduce gun safety legislation for the next General Assembly to pass.
Below is a statement the Governor released about the approach he and his team are taking:
“The terrible tragedy we witnessed in Las Vegas earlier this week should be a wakeup call to leaders in every corner of this country, particularly here in Virginia, where the mass shooting at Virginia Tech taught us the heartbreak of these events firsthand. Elected officials who have the honor of serving here in Richmond have a responsibility to do everything we can to prevent the next mass shooting from happening in our Commonwealth. I have asked my public safety and policy teams to draft legislative items the next General Assembly can pass to keep Virginians safe from the gun violence that has become all too common in our nation.
“In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, much attention has been paid to the ‘bump stock’ device that allowed the shooter to kill and injure so many people in such a short period of time. We have a responsibility to ban that device in Virginia, and I will introduce legislation this session to do just that.
“But our efforts cannot stop there. The shooter in Las Vegas, much like the shooters in the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Sandy Hook Elementary School, and many other horrible mass tragedies, was armed with military-style assault rifles fitted with high-capacity magazines. Those guns and magazines were not created for hunting or self-protection – they exist to allow a shooter to wound or kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Today, a person with intentions of committing the next mass shooting can walk into gun stores or shows across our Commonwealth and walk out with these weapons of war. I will ask the General Assembly to keep our families safe by banning the sale or possession of these items next year.
“Additionally, my administration has tried every year to work with the General Assembly on common sense gun safety measures like universal background checks and reinstating Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month policy. Unfortunately, Republicans in both chambers of the legislature have blocked those measures from passing. We cannot credibly say that we have done everything we can to keep people safe while criminals can still buy firearms at gun shows without presenting identification to anyone and gun traffickers can still buy limitless handguns to sell across Virginia and the nation.
“These common sense actions will make Virginia safer. They will not threaten the rights of individuals to responsibly bear arms to protect themselves or to hunt. They will not prevent every act of violent crime, but these steps will make it harder for dangerous people to acquire dangerous weapons, and send a signal to Virginians that their leaders are doing everything they can to keep them safe.
“Between now and the end of my term, my team and I will continue to fight every day to reduce gun violence and make our communities safer. The people of this Commonwealth deserve leaders who will not prioritize partisan agendas or special interests groups over the safety of our families and communities. I intend to submit a set of bills to the General Assembly to advance the important work of making Virginia safer and I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will work to pass it.”
Preventing gun violence has been a centerpiece of Governor McAuliffe’s agenda throughout his term. In addition to the many unsuccessful efforts he and Democrats in the legislature have made to close the gun show loophole and fight gun trafficking, the Governor has vetoed 20 bills the General Assembly passed that would have made it easier for people to acquire dangerous weapons.
Additionally, the Governor brokered a bipartisan compromise to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and expand access to voluntary background checks. The Governor also took executive action to ban firearms from state executive office buildings.