Press Release

Giffords Denounces Virginia House of Delegates Committee for Voting Down Legislation to Strengthen Gun Safety

January 25, 2018  — Today, Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, released the following statement after the Virginia House of Delegates Committee on Milita, Police and Public Safety voted down a series of bills that would have strengthened gun safety laws in the state. Legislation to ban bump stocks, close loopholes for background checks and to limit the purchase of handguns to once a month in an effort to reduce gun trafficking were all voted down.

From 2009 to 2012, states that required background checks on all handgun sales or permits had 35 percent fewer gun deaths per capita than states without that requirement. The proposal is also popular, recent polling from Quinnipiac found that 94 percent of Americans, including gun owners, support universal background checks. From 2010-2015 Virginia also had the 9th highest rate of crime gun exports, where a firearm originally purchased in Virginia was used to commit a crime in a different state.

“Virginians sent a message last November that legislators can no longer remain silent and do nothing to prevent gun violence. Today, the House of Delegates utterly failed to follow through on the desire of our state’s citizens to see action on gun safety,” said Retired Virginia Beach Deputy Police Chief John Bell, a member of the Giffords Virginia Coalition.“More needs to be done. From my 42 years in law enforcement, I saw firsthand how gun violence forever changes the lives of victims, their families, and their community. People have had enough. They want this epidemic to end and they want their leaders to stand up and do something to prevent even more American lives from being lost to gun violence.”

The legislation that was voted down today includes:

  • Banning bump stocks: Criminalize the manufacture, sale, and possession of bump stocks.

  • Universal background checks: Close all loopholes that lead to unregulated sales of firearms to individuals.

  • One handgun a month: Limiting handgun purchases to one per month to help prevent gun trafficking by preventing purchasers from buying large numbers of handguns to resell.

public opinion survey after the Virginia elections last November found that voters across the state gave the winning edge to candidates who led on a platform of gun safety and made clear they would stand up to the gun lobby. The research details that gun violence was a key factor for voters as they made their final decision. In Virginia, 80% of respondents to the poll said that the issue of guns was very or somewhat important to them when deciding who to vote for. It also found that a majority of Virginia voters said they trusted the Democratic Party more on guns.

Giffords supported the winning campaigns of Governor-elect Northam, Lieutenant Governor-elect Justin Fairfax, Attorney General Mark Herring, and 13 candidates for the House of Delegates. Of those 16 Giffords-backed candidates, 15 won, including seven who defeated incumbents.

Related Resources

  • Election Recap Memo: The morning after election day, Giffords released a full review of why voters responded to gun safety and how the organization impacted the debate.Read the full review.