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Everytown Statement on Virginia Domestic Violence Legislation Proposed by Governor McAuliffe and Gun Lobby

Virginia Senate Bill 49/House Bill 1391, Up for Vote in Coming Days, Leave a Dangerous Loophole in Place; Do Not Include Explicit Language Requiring Convicted Domestic Abusers to Surrender their Guns

NEW YORK – With a vote expected in the coming days on proposed legislation in Virginia to prevent domestic abusers from owning guns, Everytown for Gun Safety today released the following statement underscoring that Senate Bill 48 and House Bill 1391, while well-intentioned leave a dangerous loophole intact. The measures lack language that would explicitly require dangerous abusers who are under a final restraining order to actually surrender their firearms immediately—before they do any further harm to the women they abuse. A fact sheet on SB 48 and HB 1391 is available here.

STATEMENT FROM MEGAN LEWIS, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY:

“Governor McAuliffe says he wants to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers who would harm or kill their partners, and I have no doubt that he wants to save the lives of Virginia women,” said Megan Lewis, executive vice president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “The bill he has crafted as part of a broader deal with the gun lobby closes one loophole by making it illegal for abusers subject to some protective orders to have guns, but leaves another loophole wide open.

“McAuliffe has suggested his legislation would require abusers to actually surrender the guns they have on hand. But, in fact, the bill has no explicit language requiring abusers to turn in their guns and has no procedure for them to do so.

“Requiring abusers to surrender their guns is the gold standard of domestic violence legislation – and this bill falls short of that standard. Saving the lives of women who live in fear of their abusive partners is worth more than a half-measure. We encourage Governor McAuliffe and the Virginia legislature to work to strengthen SB 48 and HB 1391 so that Virginia can join 15 other states that require abusers under final protective orders to surrender their guns to protect women and children. This is a common-sense public safety step widely supported by lawmakers of all parties.”

As a current Associated Press story reports, lawmakers and governors of both political parties have passed legislation to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers in more than a dozen states over the past two years.
Requiring a surrender provision in those bills can save lives. The AP profiles Pennsylvania gun violence survivor Hollie Ayers, whose abusive ex-husband was not required to surrender his gun despite the fact that he was under a protective order prohibiting him from possessing weapons. Ayers’ ex-husband shot and killed her 2 ½ -year-old son, Michael, before her eyes. He shot Ayers twice and later killed himself. Ayers is now working to pass legislation in Pennsylvania that will require prohibited abusers to turn in their guns.

Requiring a surrender provision in those bills can save lives. The AP profiles Pennsylvania gun violence survivor Hollie Ayers, whose abusive ex-husband was not required to surrender his gun despite the fact that he was under a protective order prohibiting him from possessing weapons. Ayers’ ex-husband shot and killed her 2 ½ -year-old son, Michael, before her eyes. He shot Ayers twice and later killed himself. Ayers is now working to pass legislation in Pennsylvania that will require prohibited abusers to turn in their guns.