Friday, March 29, 2024

Virginia governor vetoed assault weapons ban, but signed a couple modest reforms

Gov. Glenn Youngkin has vetoed an assault weapons ban and a slate of other gun-control bills passed by the Virginia General Assembly, but he signed a pair of firearm-related measures into law: One bans a device that turns a semiautomatic firearm into a machine gun, and the other allows a parent or guardian to be charged with a felony for allowing a child who has been deemed a threat to have access to a gun, reported the Washington Post.

“I am pleased to sign … public safety bills which are commonsense reforms with significant bipartisan support from the General Assembly,” Youngkin (R) said in a written statement.

Youngkin had not been tested on firearm-related legislation in the first two years of his administration, when Republicans controlled the House of Delegates and prevented all gun-control measures from advancing. This year, with Democrats holding majorities in both the House and the Senate, lawmakers sent over numerous bills that put him on the spot. Youngkin had cast himself as a pro-Second Amendment patriot in his campaign for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2021. But he also refused to answer a National Rifle Association questionnaire and downplayed guns as he wooed suburban voters who tend to support some gun control.

Youngkin’s limits were clear, though, in the batch of 30 vetoes announced Tuesday, which included an assault weapons ban and a measure to close the “boyfriend loophole” to prevent someone in a domestic relationship who is subject to a restraining order from gaining access to a firearm.

The actions bring Youngkin’s total vetoes so far this session to 80 — nearing the record set by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) of 120 vetoes in a four-year term. With more than 1,000 bills sent to his desk when the General Assembly wrapped up March 9, Youngkin is on pace to set a new mark for rejections.

The two bills he signed were not opposed by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a prominent gun rights group, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“He should have signed all the other bills to keep our children and our loved ones free from firearms violence,” said Lori Haas, one of Richmond’s most vocal gun-control advocates since her daughter was injured in the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech.

The two Democrats who sponsored identical House and Senate versions of bills to hold guardians accountable for juvenile gun crimes praised Youngkin for signing the measure, which they call “Lucia’s Law” after Lucia Bremer, a 13-year-old girl in Henrico County who was gunned down by a 14-year-old boy in 2021.

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