Virginia

Gun owners in Virginia pushed to lock it up

After a 6-year-old student was accused of shooting his teacher in Newport News, Virginia, lawmakers in the Virginia Senate introduced a bill Monday that would strengthen rules for people keeping guns in their homes.

After a 6-year-old student was accused of shooting his teacher in Newport News, Virginia, lawmakers in the Virginia Senate introduced a bill Monday that would strengthen rules for people keeping guns in their homes.

The legislation requires adults to keep their guns “in a locked case, compartment or cupboard” when anyone under the age of 18 is in the home.

Ammunition would have to be “in a separate locked container, compartment or cupboard” and the key or combination to the containers would have to be “out of the reach of minors”.

Those who break the rule could be charged with a misdemeanor for any weapon not in a locked container.



“Kids are bringing guns into schools,” said Lori Haas of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “If you choose to own a firearm and you choose to have it in a household with children, please lock it up.”

The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee 9-6, with Democrats in favor and Republicans against.

“It’s up to us to be the adults and protect our children from harming themselves or others,” said the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Senator Jennifer Boysko.

Those opposed to the law pointed to instances of teenagers using guns to protect themselves or stop home invasions when no adults were around.

“We have a lot of teenagers out there who grew up with guns,” said Philip Van Cleave, who runs the Virginia Citizens Defense League. “They were taught to handle it safely.”

Van Cleave argued it was “impractical” to lock up munitions.

“I’ve got thousands of laps,” said Van Cleave. “It would take a huge closet.”

While it can pass in the Senate, the measure faces a difficult challenge in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where leaders have said they will tackle gun violence this year by improving the mental health care system, the resources available to law enforcement increase and increase penalties for criminals.

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