RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WHSV) -The Virginia Senate approved legislation Wednesday that would allow authorities to take guns away from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others, as the state moves closer to joining a growing number of states enacting so-called “red flag” gun laws.
SB 240 passed on a party line vote, 21-19, on Wednesday. Senator Lynwood Lewis voted along party lines to pass the measure.
The Democratic-led Senate voted for SB 240 despite fierce resistance from Republican lawmakers. GOP Sen. Amanda Chase called supporters of the legislation “traitors” and said the proposed law would embolden criminals and hurt law-abiding citizens.
Democrats said the bill could help prevent mass shootings and said similar laws have worked well in 17 other states. They also said the bill had been carefully crafted to preserve due process and protect individual rights.
The bill now moves to the House. It is one of several gun-control measures the new Democratic majority at the General Assembly is set to pass this year.
The move came just two days around 22,000 people crowded Richmond’s Capitol Square and surrounding areas to support the 2nd Amendment and protest proposed gun laws, like the ‘red flag’ law.
Attempts to pass red flag laws in past years had all been killed in Republican-controlled committees before ever advancing to full-floor votes.
Here is the full summary of Senate Bill 240, according to the General Assembly’s legislature website:
Creates a procedure by which any attorney for the Commonwealth or any law-enforcement officer may apply to a general district court, circuit court, or juvenile and domestic relations district court judge or magistrate for an emergency substantial risk order to prohibit a person who poses a substantial risk of injury to himself or others from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm. If an emergency substantial risk order is issued, a judge or magistrate may issue a search warrant to remove firearms from such person. An emergency substantial risk order shall expire on the fourteenth day following issuance of the order. The bill requires a court hearing in the circuit court for the jurisdiction where the order was issued within 14 days from issuance of an emergency substantial risk order to determine whether a substantial risk order should be issued. Seized firearms shall be retained by a law-enforcement agency for the duration of an emergency substantial risk order or a substantial risk order or, for a substantial risk order and with court approval, may be transferred to a third party 21 years of age or older chosen by the person from whom they were seized. The bill allows the complainant of the original warrant to file a motion for a hearing to extend the substantial risk order prior to its expiration. The court may extend the substantial risk order for a period not longer than 180 days. The bill provides that persons who are subject to a substantial risk order, until such order has been dissolved by a court, are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor for purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm; are disqualified from having a concealed handgun permit; and may not be employed by a licensed firearms dealer. The bill also provides that a person who transfers a firearm to a person he knows has been served with a warrant or who is the subject of a substantial risk order is guilty of a Class 4 felony. The bill creates a computerized substantial risk order registry for the entry of orders issued pursuant to provisions in the bill.