As someone who supports the Second Amendment, raised my daughters around firearms and has personally attended gun safety training to attain a concealed weapons permit myself, I know what it means to be a responsible gun owner. With that knowledge, I also know that responsibility extends to preventing senseless gun tragedies from occurring in the first place.
One crucial step we can take towards improving gun safety is implementing universal background checks. This means that anyone looking to purchase a firearm must undergo a thorough background check, regardless of where they buy it. This would help prevent individuals who have no business owning a firearm from obtaining one.
In addition, we need to address the issue of child access prevention. Again, as someone who raised my daughters to understand proper use and the dangers that guns present, I feel confident in creating laws that hold irresponsible gun owners accountable if their firearms are used unlawfully by a minor, and risk the lives of themselves or others. Guns should always be stored in a secure manner, locked and unloaded, particularly in households where children are present. We must ensure that gun owners are legally liable if they fail to store their firearms safely and a child gains access to them, resulting in injury or death.
I also support investing in community-based violence prevention programs. These programs can help address the root causes of gun violence, including poverty, trauma, and lack of access to education and job opportunities. By investing in these programs, we can help prevent gun violence before it occurs and build safer, more resilient communities.
And finally, I believe that red flag laws are critical in saving lives and preventing gun violence. Currently Virginia has HB674/SB240, which allows any attorney for the Commonwealth, or law-enforcement, to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from individuals, by providing extensive proof of a viable threat to themselves or others. However the violation of this law only results in a Class 1 Misdemeanor, meaning no more than 12 months in jail and upwards of a $2,500 fine. The idea that someone is seen as a substantial threat and could face little legal ramifications and endanger members of our community, should warrant stricter criminal consequences. This can be a crucial tool, particularly in cases where individuals may be experiencing a mental health crisis.
As the next Delegate in the 71st District, I am committed to voting on and advocating for common sense, responsible gun safety legislation that aims to keep our kids and communities safe.