I'm very pleased by this decision.
Looking forward to returning to the Capitol soon to attend
a Special Session to Reduce Gun Violence
I look forward to re-introducing the strong measures I have introduced in the past to protect Virginians against gun violence, to co-patron anew the measures I have supported in the past, and to introduce and support new measures to reduce the scourge of gun violence.
You probably know that we Democrats in the Virginia General Assembly have introduced hundreds of gun-safety measures that were killed on party-line votes. More recently, Republicans have refused to even allow debate on several measures designed to prevent dangerous people from having easy access to instruments of mass murder.
I know this from personal experience. During the 2017 session, I introduced fivestrong bills to reduce gun violence and co-patroned dozens of others. All of these bills were blocked on party-line votes. They all deserve a hearing, a debate, and a full vote on the floor of the House of Delegates!
Virginia Republicans have long prioritized avoiding minor inconveniences to lawful gun owners over strong measures to reduce the gunning down of innocent Virginians by people who should never have had access to killing machines in the first place.
90% of background checks take about one minute to do and are already done by licensed gun dealers. Why are we allowing unlicensed people to sell military-style weapons to any stranger, no questions asked?
Republicans have resisted limits on high-capacity magazine clips in the hands of civilians because it takes 1-5 seconds to change a clip. To avoid a few seconds of inconvenience to gun-range enthusiasts, should Virginians have to lose our loved ones forever?
The Virginia Beach Victims
Here are a dozen examples of bills I've introduced or co-patroned in the past that I would re-introduce or co-patron once again in the special session. This is admittedly a partial list. There are dozens of further measures I would consider:
- Universal background checks
- Ban on high-capacity magazines
- Ban on giving a loaded gun to a child under the age of five. (I'm willing to extend the ban to a higher age, but this is the bill that failed in the past. Democrats just don't believe that pre-schoolers should have access to loaded guns. We hope to convince at least one Republican to agree with us on this.)
- Ban on selling guns to people convicted of domestic violence
- Ban on gun sales to people found by a court to be a threat to themselves or others
- Red-Flag Laws to allow courts/police to prevent incipient violence (Gun Violence Protective Orders)
- Ban on gun sales to terrorists
- Ban on gun sales to strangers over the internet
- Ban on bump stocks
- Allow localities to regulate guns at protests (My bill was based on an Alabama law. That's right. Alabama has better gun safety at protests than Virginia.)
- Allow localities to pass stricter gun laws by ordinance (We don't have much hunting in Alexandria and Arlington. Government closest to the people knows best. Conservatives who tout their belief in local government should support this.)
- Ban guns carried by anyone except Capitol Police in the visitors' gallery of the Virginia House of Delegates. (The Virginia Senate already has this ban. We shouldn't have to wait until we ourselves are gunned down to stop an easily preventable massacre.)
These are just a few ideas and broad strokes. If you have a suggestion for gun legislation, let me know. If you want to see my proposed language, I've introduced seven of these bills in the past and copatroned the rest. (Links to my five bills last year are in the text at the top of this letter.) And I'd certainly be willing to discuss details, clarifications, exceptions, amendments, improvements, etc. with any person of good will who is willing to sit down and discuss good ideas with me.
That emphatically includes my friends across the aisle. If you support the principle of any of one of these bills but don't like the way a particular bill is drafted, please email me with suggestions.
Maintaining the status quo is not an option. The Speaker of the House has announced no plan to change any Virginia gun law, except mandatory minimum penalties for gun violence. But mandatory minimum penalties do nothing to stop people like the Virginia Beach killer who are willing to die in order to massacre others. The killer is dead.
The problem we need to solve is not how to punish dead killers but how to prevent the next wannabe killer from getting his hands on a military-style murder weapon in the first place!
I submit that Virginians want us to work together to reduce gun violence.
And it is my fervent hope that the innocent lives lost in Virginia Beach will move at least a few Republicans to consider changing their mind…
before more of our constituents are gunned down...
We can do better.
It is always my honor and privilege to serve you.
Delegate Mark Levine
Serving Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax in Virginia's 45th District