Statement: Americans for Responsible Solutions Applauds Gov. McAuliffe for Veto of Dangerous Virginia Gun Bills and Defeat of Additional Bills During Legislative Session

March 24, 2017 — Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, and members of the “Virginia Coalition for Common Sense,” issued the following statements today applauding actions taking by the legislature and the Governor on several dangerous gun bills.

Americans for Responsible Solutions applauds Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe for today’s vetoes of several dangerous gun bills, including HB 1852/SB 1299, which would have made women and families in crisis less safe.  The Governor’s veto is an important step in the process of ensuring these bills do not become law in Virginia.

In addition, during the legislative session, Virginia lawmakers rejected two extreme guns bills: SB 1450, an irresponsible campus carry bill, which would have let individuals carry loaded, concealed firearms on public college campuses, and HB 2265/SB 1440 a dangerous permitless carry bill that would have let unsuitable individuals carry loaded, concealed weapons in public.  Americans for Responsible Solutions and the Virginia Coalition for Common Sense applaud the work of legislators and community leaders in defeating these bills earlier this year.

“As a former law enforcement officer in Virginia, I know all too well what guns can do when they fall into the wrong hands. I’ve seen the aftermath of gun tragedies, and it is not something you forget,” said John Bell, retired Deputy Chief, Virginia Beach Police Department, advisory committee member for the Virginia Coalition for Common Sense. “Guns have absolutely no place on our college campuses. And the proliferation of firearms in classrooms will only lead to more gun tragedies, not less. I’m glad to see the Virginia Legislature defeat this irresponsible proposal, which would have made it harder for law enforcement officials to do their jobs and made our communities less safe.”

“Women in abusive situations are five times more likely to be murdered if their abuser has access to a gun. So we’re pleased to see Governor McAuliffe stand up for Virginia women and families,” said Cathy Easter, Executive Director, Safe Harbor, advisory committee member for the Virginia Coalition for Common Sense. “Guns and domestic violence are a deadly, tragic mix. I urge our state’s leaders to continue to support legislation that reduces abusers’ access to firearms and provides better protection to families in crisis that are impacted by violence.”

“This legislative session, Americans for Responsible Solutions worked to defeat a handful of dangerous gun bills that put law enforcement, women and families at risk,” said Robin Lloyd, Government Affairs Director, Americans for Responsible Solutions. “We would like to thank Governor McAuliffe for his actions today and thank the members of the Virginia Coalition for Common Sense who urged their elected officials in Richmond to defeat these irresponsible bills that would have made made Virginia less safe.  We are hopeful the Governor’s vetoes will be upheld when the legislature reconvenes in April.”

About Guns on Campus, Permitless Carry, and Domestic Violence

Guns On Campus: Most states prohibit, or allow school administrators to prohibit, guns on university and college campuses. As a result, campuses typically have much lower gun death rate than the rest of the country. Allowing guns on campus is likely to increase both homicides and suicides at colleges. Young adults between 18 and 25 experience the highest rate of serious mental illness. When a gun enters the mix, a suicide attempt becomes considerably more lethal. The proliferation of alcohol and drugs on college campuses also gravely increases the risk of conflicts turning violent when guns are present.

Permitless Carry: Historically, almost every state prohibited or strictly limited the carrying of concealed, loaded weapons in public places. These restrictions were among the earliest gun laws adopted in the United States. In the 20th Century, some states began to grant law enforcement discretion to issue concealed carry permits to individuals who passed a background check and received firearm safety training and/or demonstrated a particular need to carry hidden, loaded guns in public. At the behest of the gun lobby, however, many states have weakened those permit requirements in recent years.

Claims that permissive CCW laws lead to decreases in crime – by helping fight off criminals and sending the message to would-be attackers that any potential victim might be packing heat – are simply untrue. No credible statistical evidence exists to show that permissive CCW laws reduce crime. In fact, the evidence suggests that permissive CCW laws may actually increase the frequency of some types of crime, like assault. This research confirms the common sense conclusion that more guns create more opportunities for injury and death, not fewer.

Domestic Violence: Data demonstrates that intimate partner violence combined with access to firearms is a deadly combination. Gaps in federal law that allow abusers and stalkers to purchase and possess guns facilitate of the staggering levels of lethal violence against women in the United States. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the likelihood that the woman will die by five times. Protecting the lives of American women and their families requires lawmakers to take steps to ensure that dangerous domestic abusers and convicted stalkers don’t have easy access to guns.

Americans from across the political spectrum agree that limiting domestic abusers’ and stalkers’ access to guns is essential to saving lives. Polls show that 82% of Americans— including 68% of Republicans—support legislation that helps keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers.