Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a series of gun control bills into law on Friday, further entrenching the state as the epicenter of the nationwide gun debate.

Northam, a Democrat, signed five measures, which include expanding background checks to all firearm sales, reinstating the cap on handgun sales to one a month, and a "red flag" bill to allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from people deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others, The Roanoke Times reported.

Other measures increase penalties for allowing a firearm to get into the hands of a child younger than 14 and a requirement that gun owners report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement within 48 hours after discovering they are missing.


“This is an exciting day for me,” Northam said during a conference call with gun control advocates. “It was time to have our legislators come to Richmond and to take votes and pass laws, and that’s exactly what they did this year."

Northam is sending two other proposals back to state lawmakers with recommended changes. One would allow local authorities to regulate firearms at certain buildings and events, and the other would ban those subject to protective orders from possessing firearms and require them to turn over firearms within 24 hours, according to the newspaper.

The measures come as the Democratic-led General Assembly has taken efforts to enact a slew of gun control measures following a mass shooting in Virginia Beach last year. Republican state lawmakers have pushed back.

In July, they ended a special session called by Northam to take up gun control measures in 90 minutes. The gun lobby was able to water down some of the bills backed by the governor.

“While we still don’t like them, they’re not as bad as they once were," said Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

Some moderate Democrats balked at banning assault weapons like the AK-47, the most high-profile of the gun measures debated.

Virginia has slowly become the battleground over gun rights after Democrats took control of the state's Assembly last year.

In January, thousands of gun-rights advocates descended on the state Capitol in Richmond to protest the proposed gun laws. Northam declared a state of emergency and added security after threats of violence had escalated in the days preceding the rally.


Van Cleave said his group is planning several lawsuits against the gun laws.

“Nothing [Northam's] doing today is necessarily permanent," Van Cleave said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.