Gun-rights groups caution against gun control measures in Virginia after shootings

“Virginia already has many of the same failed, gun control policies that the anti-gun Left is calling for -- red flags laws, universal background checks, and more,”

Updated: November 29, 2022 - 6:49am

After three football players were killed in a shooting at the University of Virginia and six people were killed in a shooting at a Walmart in Chesapeake, gun groups are cautioning against efforts to impose stricter gun control measures.

On Nov. 13, three UVA football players were killed after a man allegedly opened fire in a bus after returning to the university from a class trip. A little more than a week later, six people were killed in a Walmart in Chesapeake after a man allegedly opened fire because of grievances against some Walmart employees.

Shortly after the shootings, Democratic lawmakers in Virginia announced a plan to approve stricter gun control measures in the General Assembly in the next legislative session.

House Democrats announced they would introduce bills to restrict high-capacity magazines, ban ghost guns, raise the age to buy certain firearms and hold the gun industry accountable. Senate Democrats released a statement in which the caucus said it was beyond the point of thoughts and prayers and said the state must collectively come together to end gun violence. Senate Democrats did not unveil any policy proposals and did not respond to an inquiry from The Center Square about what specific actions they intend to take.

Some gun groups have cautioned against passing stricter gun control, arguing Democrats already passed a wide range of gun control policies in recent years that have not deterred gun violence.

“Virginia already has many of the same failed, gun control policies that the anti-gun Left is calling for -- red flags laws, universal background checks, and more,” Jordan Stein, the southeast region director for Gun Owners of America, told The Center Square. “Further, Walmart's ‘no carry’ policy for employees made them sitting ducks. More gun control will only enable these killers. We need the freedom to protect ourselves from evil doers!”

Philip Van Cleave, the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, told The Center Square he believes some of the gun control measures being suggested would violate the Constitution, based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen. He said they will be challenged and they will not stand up in court.

“Gun control simply does not work to stop someone determined to commit violence,” Van Cleave added.

When Democrats controlled both chambers of the General Assembly in 2020, lawmakers passed a series of gun control laws. The most controversial bill enacted red flag laws, which allow police to seize firearms from a person if a judge deems him to be a threat to himself or others, even if that person has not been convicted of a crime, charged with a crime or even accused of a crime. Since the law was enacted, hundreds of Virginians have had their firearms confiscated through the allowances in this law.

Even though Democrats had a majority in both chambers, some of their proposals failed to get approval from moderate Democrats in the Senate. This included proposed restrictions on high capacity magazines and a proposed ban on assault weapons.

Although Democrats still retain narrow control of the Senate, Republicans won back control of the House of Delegates in the 2021 elections.

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