Three Dozen Virginians Barred from Possesssing Guns Under ‘Red Flag’ Law

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Illustration by Kostya Vacuum via Flickr

Between July and August, Virginia’s “red flag” laws prohibited three dozen Virginians from possessing guns.

The law, enacted in July, resulted in the granting of 26 temporary and 10 permanent orders barring Virginia residents on the grounds that they represented a “substantial risk” if they had access to a firearm, WTOP News reports

The law was just one of 10 gun measures that went into effect in the state in July, reflecting the recent change to a Democratic majority in the Virginia General Assembly, for the first time in over two decades. 

The bill was opposed by Republicans.

Virginia law prohibits state police from releasing any details about those 36 orders, and the statistics the department provided do not include the localities where the orders were granted or the dates they were issued, reported the Richmond Times Dispatch.

The “red flag” law, also known as the Emergency Risk Protection Order (ERPO), allows a judge to issue a 14-day restriction on purchasing or possessing a firearm should the judge find “probable cause to believe that person is a danger to themselves or others if they have a gun.” 

A court hearing then occurs within the 14-day period to determine whether or not to extend the restriction up to 180 days if the evidence that the individual remains dangerous is “clear and convincing.” 

Virginia is one of  19 states as well as the District of Columbia that have implemented “red flag” laws. Only five states prior to 2018 had implemented such laws, but following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Parkland, Fl., eight states including Florida and the District of Columbia instituted similar laws.

In 2019 four more states followed suit, as well as New Mexico and Virginia in 2020. 

Other Virginia laws restricted the purchase of handguns to one a month, universal background checks on buyers, reporting a lost or stolen firearm within 48 hours, the ability of cities and counties to restrict guns in government buildings or public places, and the use of firearms in the presence of children under 14 years old, among others. 

The increased push for gun reform is reflective of the United State’s prior issues with mass shootings, although Republicans still push back in favor of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. 

This summary was prepared by TCR news reporting intern Emily Riley

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