RICHMOND, Va. — Weeks after a deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, sparked a national debate about gun safety, Del. David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, delivered a speech advocating for the passage of gun control legislation in the House of Delegates on Tuesday.
“I usually don’t talk very much about gun issues on the floor of the House,” Toscano said, “but times are changing in this country, and I think we have to start beginning the dialog that we need to have about guns.”
Toscano focused on three gun control bills that have been advanced by lawmakers in other states. This includes a bill that would prohibit the use of bump stocks, a device designed to increase the rate of fire on firearms; a bill that would prohibit individuals under 21 from purchasing semi-automatic rifles, and a bill that would allow family members or law enforcement officers who voice concern for an individual’s mental health to request a restraining order to temporarily take away that individual’s firearms until the danger subsides.
Toscano pointed out that similar legislation has been introduced in Virginia, but the bills have been struck down in subcommittees. House Bill 41, introduced by Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria, would have prohibited the sale, manufacture and import of devices designed to increase the rate of fire on firearms. HB 281, introduced by Del. Marcia Price, D-Newport News, would have required minors to receive permission from their parent or legal guardian to possess a firearm in the home of that parent or guardian. HB 198, introduced by Richard Sullivan Jr., D-Fairfax, would have created a procedure in which a law enforcement officer or an attorney for the state may apply for a warrant to remove firearms from a person who poses a substantial risk to themself or others.
Toscano called on the speaker of the House to revive these bills and to have them be heard in the full House instead of in a committee.
“You say the word, Mr. Speaker, we could resurrect that bill, or the other two that I discussed, or other gun safety measures that you might want,” Toscano said.
Toscano’s speech was met with applause from Democrats in the House and silence from Republicans.
The Speaker of the House, Del. Kirkland Cox, R-Colonial Heights, and Del. Thomas Wright Jr., R-Lunenburg, a member of the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee that heard two of the bills Toscano referenced, could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
One piece of gun control legislation that remains active, Senate Bill 669, introduced by Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, requires minors who are 14 or older and were ordered to treatment at a psychiatric facility to be subject to the same restrictions on possessing a firearm as an adult who was ordered to undergo similar treatment. The bill passed the Senate and will soon be heard in the House.
This story was produced by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Capital News Service.