$250,000 in potential gun control enforcement in Virginia budget proposal creating firestorm online

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(WJHL) – A $250,000 proposal tucked in the fiscal 2021 draft Virginia state budget is drawing significant online attention. It’s at the end of the Department of Corrections budget proposal and has five $50,000 segments devoted to the cost of incarcerating people as a result of enforcing proposed gun control measures. Those amounts are estimated “for periods of imprisonment in state adult correctional facilities” related to violation of the proposed gun control laws.

The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action reported it this way: “Virginia Gov. Northam Wants to Ban Your Guns AND Make You Pay For It!” The NRA-ILA’s Dec. 23 report has been shared on numerous websites, including Breitbart and The Daily Caller. That story reported that the $250,000 is to provide for estimated additional cost of operating prisons resulting from the enactment of what it called “(Gov. Ralph) Northam’s gun control measures.”

Impact statements for the Senate bills related to the new gun control measures indicate that $50,000 is the minimum fiscal impact, and that “the estimated amount of the necessary appropriation cannot be determined for periods of imprisonment in state adult correctional facilities.”

The proposal would allocate funds ($50,000 each) related to enforcement of the following:

FILE – In this Oct. 4, 2017, file photo, shooting instructor Frankie McRae demonstrates the grip on an AR-15 rifle fitted with a bump stock at his 37 PSR Gun Club in Bunnlevel, N.C. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed, File)
  • Removal of firearms from people who pose a risk to themselves or others;
  • Prohibition of sale, possession, and transport of assault firearms, trigger activators (including so-called bump stocks), and silencers;
  • Allowing a child to access unsecured firearms;
  • Possession of firearms for people subject to final orders of protection; and
  • A background check requirement for all firearms sales.

The text related to the proposal is in Section Q at the end of this four-page PDF.

Much of the actual proposed legislation is sponsored by Senator Dick Saslaw (D-35th), who represents a Beltway-area district with its offices in Springfield. They include the following bills that were pre-filed Nov. 18, 2019 and will be offered Jan. 8:

SB 16: Assault firearms and certain firearm magazines; prohibiting sale, transport, etc. penalties:

SB 16 amends sections of the state’s code, including expanding the definition of “assault firearm” as defined on page 7 of the bill’s full text, starting on line 397. It also prohibits anyone from selling, making, purchasing or owning any of the defined assault firearms. Current law only prohibits their possession by minors and non-citizens.

The definitions include semi-automatic rifles and pistols with fixed magazine capacity of more than 10 rounds, as well as semi-automatics that use detachable magazines and have certain other characteristics. Revolving cylinder shotguns are also included.

Other gun-related bills sponsored by Saslaw include SB 12, which relates to firearm transfers and background checks; SB 14, which relates to “trigger activators, including so-called “bump stocks;” SB 18, relating to criminal background checks and firearm possession; and SB 22, which would place limits on handgun purchases.

Impact statements and full texts of all those bills are below.

SB 18 would make it a Class 6 felony to manufacture, import, sell, offer for sale, possess, transfer or transport a trigger activator. According to the impact statement:

The proposal defines a trigger activator in § 18.2-308.5:1(A) as follows: “A device designed to be attached to a semi-automatic firearm, which allows the firearm to discharge two or more shots in a burst by activating the device, including a bump-fire device or a binary trigger, but does not convert the semi-automatic firearm into a machine gun; or a manual or power-driven trigger activating device designed so that when attached to a semi-automatic firearm it increases the rate of fire of that firearm, including a trigger crank, but does not convert the semiautomatic firearm into a machine gun.”

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