As if Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s wholesale attack on law-abiding gun owners wasn’t enough, the disgraced public official and his Michael Bloomberg-bought allies in the General Assembly now want the state’s hard-working taxpayers to foot the bill for their unconstitutional schemes. The budget bill (HB30) includes an appropriation of a quarter million dollars to carry out a host of gun control measures that Northam and his anti-gun allies hope to enact.
The $250,000 is appropriated to the Corrections Special Reserve Fund in order to provide for the “increase in the operating cost of adult correctional facilities resulting from the enactment” of Northam’s gun control measures. Among the enumerated laws that this allocation is meant to fund is a ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms, the criminalization of private firearms transfers, and gun confiscation orders issued without due process.
Aside from the insult of forcing law-abiding Virginia taxpayers to pay for the diminution of their rights, the gun control allocation is a severe waste of resources. Northam’s Bloomberg-backed gun control measures will not make Virginia safer.
In additional to being unconstitutional, a ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms will not reduce violent crime.
Long guns of any description are rarely used in violent crime. FBI Uniform Crime Reporting data breaks down homicides by weapon type. In 2018, the FBI reported that there were five times as many individuals listed as killed with “knives or cutting instruments,” than with rifles of any kind. The data also showed that rifles were listed as being used in less homicides than “blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.)” or “personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.).”
A 1997 Department of Justice-funded study of the 1994 federal “assault weapons” ban determined that “At best, the assault weapons ban can have only a limited effect on total gun murders, because the banned weapons and magazines were never involved in more than a modest fraction of all gun murders.” A 2004 follow-up Department of Justice-funded study came to a similar conclusion. The study determined that “AWs [assault weapons] and LCMs [large capacity magazines] were used in only a minority of gun crimes prior to the 1994 federal ban,” “relatively few attacks involve more than 10 shots fired,” and “the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”
So-called “universal” background checks do not stop criminals from obtaining firearms.
Background checks don’t stop criminals from stealing firearms, getting them on the black market, or getting them from straw purchasers. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 75 percent of criminals in state and federal state prison who had possessed a firearm during their offense acquired the firearm through theft, “Off the street/underground market,” or “from a family member or friend, or as a gift.” Less than one percent got firearms from dealers or non-dealers at gun shows. ATF has reported, “[t]he most frequent type of trafficking channel identified in ATF investigations is straw purchasing from federally licensed firearms dealers.”
This year, researchers at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the UC Davis School of Medicine found that comprehensive background checks and prohibitions based on violent misdemeanors “were not associated with changes in firearm suicide or homicide.”
Aside from enabling the unacceptable deprivation of constitutional rights without due process, an Extreme Risk Protection Order (Red Flag) law is unnecessary in Virginia because the state already has strong and effective civil commitment laws.
Under Virginia law, a law enforcement officer may take an individual into emergency custody for a mental health evaluation without prior court approval. A person detained in this manner is then evaluated to determine whether they meet the criteria for a temporary detention. A person that was subject to a temporary detention order and subsequently agreed to voluntary admission to a mental health facility is prohibited from possessing firearms until their rights are restored by a court.
Tax-paying Virginians should not have to foot the bill for Northam and Bloomberg’s radical attack on their fundamental rights.
Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Click here to follow NRA-ILA on Facebook.