Virginia Democratic lawmakers said Friday they had reached a deal on a controversial “red flag” bill that would allow authorities to temporarily take away firearms from people deemed a threat to themselves or others, a measure that has been strongly opposed by gun rights advocates.
The bill, which has been heavily debated in both the state Senate and House of Delegates, is part of Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s gun control package.
Democratic Sen. George Baker of Fairfax County said at a House Public Safety Committee meeting Friday that he and his House counterpart, Del. Rip Sullivan, have come to an agreement on their respective bills, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
If the measures pass, a person would not need to be charged with a crime or even accused of one for their gun to be taken away. They would then be granted a hearing within 14 days of having their firearm seized to determine whether they will get it back or lose it for a longer period of time.
Republicans opposed the bill, voicing concerns about people not being able to protect themselves or their homes during the 14-day period while they are waiting for their hearing.
Other bills that passed out of committee Friday include one that would expand background checks and one that would allow Virginians to voluntarily put themselves on a list that would prohibit them from purchasing firearms.
Virginia has been ground zero for the country’s heated debate over gun control. In November, Democrats flipped the state Senate and the House of Delegates, giving them control of both the governor’s office and the legislature for the first time in a generation.
Following his reelection, Northam vowed to push through new gun control measures, saying it was a top priority for Virginia Democrats. In doing so, he angered gun rights advocates who believe he is trying to take away their rights.