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In 2017, 1,041 people died from gun violence in Virginia. Sixty-five percent of all gun deaths in Virginia were suicides, and 33% were homicides.*
Funding for Community-Based Violence Intervention Programs
The Commonwealth of Virginia should invest in community-based violence intervention programs that target individuals at highest risk for gun violence. These programs work to both interrupt cycles of violence and connect the highest risk individuals to social services offered within the community. Research suggests that state investment in community-based violence intervention programs is an effective way to reduce firearm violence. When adequately funded, these evidence-based interventions can reduce violent crime by up to 30%.
Extreme Risk Protection Order
An Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) bill will empower law enforcement to prevent gun tragedies. This bill will allow law enforcement to file a petition with the courts to temporarily remove and prohibit the possession or purchase of firearms from individuals at high risk of harm to self or others. When the order expires, firearms may be returned. Similar laws are available in 17 states and the District of Columbia. If passed in Virginia, ERPO will help prevent mass shootings and suicides.
Banning Dangerous Weapons
A dangerous weapons ban will help protect Virginians against firearm violence. Dangerous weapons, which include military-style semi-automatic rifles, high-capacity magazines, suppressors, and bump stocks are designed to maximize lethality. Mass shooters often use these weapons and accessories for the sole purpose of increasing the number of individuals shot in a short period of time before police can respond. High-capacity magazines were used in the Virginia Beach mass shooting where 12 people were killed and 4 people were injured. The Virginia Tech shooter was also able to kill 32 people and injured 23 more with the use of high-capacity magazines. It is past time the Commonwealth ban these dangerous weapons and protect its citizens.
Universal Background Checks
Virginia does not require that every individual seeking to purchase a firearm undergo a background check. Private sellers (i.e. at gun shows or online) are not required to conduct background checks, creating a loophole for prohibited persons – including felons, fugitives, and domestic abusers – to easily access firearms. A universal background check law closes these dangerous loopholes and creates accountability among private gun sellers. Passing a universal background check law in Virginia would help keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals.
Child Access Prevention
Strengthening Virginia’s Child Access Prevention law will help prevent child firearm deaths. Virginia’s Child Access Prevention law should be strengthened to 1) make it easier for prosecutors to hold irresponsible gun owners accountable, 2) increase the criminal charge to a felony, and 3) extend the age to cover all minors up to age 18.
Reporting Lost and Stolen Firearms
A Lost and Stolen Reporting law would require individuals to report firearms to law enforcement within 24 hours of discovering the loss or theft of their firearm. Police would then enter the information into an FBI firearms database. Individuals who fail to report lost or stolen firearms would face a civil penalty. A Lost and Stolen Reporting law will help reduce the flow of illegal firearms into Virginia’s urban communities of color. It will help police recover lost and stolen guns quicker, thereby reducing interstate gun trafficking and violent crime.
Raising the Minimum Age to Purchase a Firearm
A minimum age to purchase law would raise the age for which individuals can purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer from 18 to 21. Youth aged 18 to 20 are at increased risk for firearm violence. Minimum age to purchase legislation will help reduce suicides and homicides among these youth by raising the firearm purchasing age from 18 to 21.
Domestic Violence and Guns
In Virginia, on average, 62% of intimate partner homicides are by firearm. Laws that reduce abusers’ access to firearms are associated with reductions in intimate partner homicide. Virginia law must be strengthened to protect victims of domestic violence.
Gun Violence in Virginia
Overview of Firearm Violence in Virginia
-Over the last decade (2008-2017) 9,025 Virginians died by firearm
-Each week an average of 20 Virginians die by firearm
-The firearm death rate increased by 16% over the last decade
Rise in Firearm Suicide and Homicide in Virginia
-The firearm suicide rate has increased by 15% over the last decade (2008-2017)
-The firearm homicide rate increase 45% since 2013
Firearm Homicide in Virginia
Firearm Homicide in Virginia
Child Firearm Deaths in Virginia
Child Firearm Deaths in Virginia – Overview
Child Firearm Deaths in Virginia: By Type, Sex, and Race
Domestic Violence in Virginia
Domestic Violence Firearm Laws in Virginia
Domestic Violence Statistics in Virginia
Virginia’s Lethal Loopholes: Policy Solutions to Domestic Homicides Committed with Firearms
Gun Violence Prevention is a Priority
Firearms Trafficking in Virginia
Public Polling in Virginia – June 2019
Virginia Public Polling – June 2019
General Policy Recommendations
The Need for Universal Background Checks in Virginia
Report: Risk-Based Firearm Policy Recommendations for Virginia
*Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. WONDER Online Database, 1999-2017. Available: http://wonder.cdc.gov/ucd-icd10.html