Don’t Bring Your Gun to Town, Son!
The Commonwealth should, without infringing on citizen rights to have a firearm for self defense in the home, use a number of tools to limit the presence and use of firearms, particularly by criminals, those with a propensity to violence, and/or youth. Such tools include a range of actions from regulation of all sales to longer prison sentences for using a gun in a crime to mandatory background checks on all purchasers of firearms, no matter where or how they purchased their weapons. Virginia needs to ensure that it effectively collaborates with other states and with Federal authorities to halt such threats as interstate gangs, firearms smuggling, armed criminal gangs (including drug cartels and sales forces) and illegal firearms sales.
All licensed or non-licensed firearm dealers should conduct a national instant criminal background check prior to any firearm sales or transfers, including the sales or transfers of any firearm at a gun show. Appropriate penalties should apply for violations.
A person should be held civilly liable for injury to a person or property of another or for unlawful death resulting from the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime, if it can be shown by clear evidence that the firearm came into possession of the offender because of the failure of the gun owner to effectively secure the firearm from theft or unauthorized possession.
Virginia residents should not be able to buy ammunition online nor should it be lawful for Virginia-based firearms dealers to sell online. Ammunition ordered over the Internet should be delivered in a face-to-face transaction with a firearms dealer. The purchaser should go through a background check prior to acquiring the ammunition.
The circumstances in which firearms may be owned and held vary greatly from one local Virginia jurisdiction to another. The governing body of any county or chartered city should have the authority to adopt local ordinances regulating the sale of firearms and ammunition in their localities.
It should be unlawful to carry firearms into a local public meeting, except for law enforcement officers and/or qualified, registered armed security personnel whose duty it is to protect participants at the meeting as determined by the local government. Open carrying at these meetings by private citizens is intended to and simply intimidates the public, wastes law enforcement resources, and increases the risk of injury and death due to the accidental or intentional use of firearms.
The technology of smartguns is a major development that has the potential to drastically reduce the number of homicides and accidents in our society. Virginia should be a leader in encouraging this technology, not allow threats to gunshop owners who want to sell smartguns.