Trying to get more stringent gun control legislation through the Virginia General Assembly is something of a losing battle, according to at least two state lawmakers representing Northern Virginia.
Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-35th) lamented that he’s tried multiple times to tighten up Virginia’s gun rights, but to little avail.
He told audience members of a state legislative forum held at Alexandria’s City Hall that three years ago he introduced a bill after a man shot and killed two police officers before shooting and killing himself.
Saslaw said in response, he introduced a bill making it illegal in Virginia to bring a gun onto police grounds. The Senate then narrowed that measure by making it illegal to bring a gun into a police station. House members ultimately killed the bill.
“When you can’t get a bill through to ban private citizens from bringing guns to the secure area of a police station…,” Saslaw said, throwing up his hands exasperatedly. Saslaw serves on the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, which is responsible for legislation dealing with public safety. He also unsuccessfully fought against the repeal of the one-gun-a-month law, which limited handgun purchases in Virginia to one per 30 days for an individual.
What would it take to see more stringent controls, asked Saslaw. If someone with a gun acting irrationally goes into the building near I-66 and Route 50 (the headquarters of the National Rifle Association), “you might get sensible gun control,” he said.
Saslaw added that of the 39 gun-related bills making their way through the Virginia state house last session, the NRA was involved in just four of them.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League was the voice involved in most of them, Saslaw said. The senator described the league’s members as pulling out of the NRA and forming their own group because they saw the NRA as too liberal.
The nonprofit Virginia Citizens Defense League is dedicated to advancing the fundamental human right of all Virginians to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment and Article 1, Section 13 of Virginia’s constitution, according to its website.
Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30th) said he intends to introduce a bill during the upcoming session that would require people to report stolen guns, although he also noted that gun-control legislation never quite sails through the chambers.
Saslaw also recounted that he received an email from an army captain who called Saslaw an idiot for trying to put more stringent controls on gun use and said the captain wrote “I’d never dream of walking down the streets of Kabul without a gun.”
Saslaw said people need to realize that Fairfax County is not Kabul.
“These people, where are they coming from?” he said, adding, “Certainly not from Northern Virginia.”