Jan 12, 2020 Action Alert: Fair Redistricting, No Excuse Absentee Voting, & Gun Violence Prevention

Virginia’s legislative session is underway! Contact your lawmakers now to support fair redistricting, no excuse absentee voting, and gun violence prevention. You can modify your message before sending.

To review the bills: 

🔸 Fair redistricting        SJ 18, SB 203, 204 / HJ 71, HB 758

🔸 No excuse absentee voting  SB 45, 111, 879 / HB 1, 25, 27

🔸 Gun violence prevention     SB 70 , 240 / HB 2, 674

For more info: 

🔸 Redistricting

🔸 No Excuse Absentee Voting, p.4 

🔸 Gun Violence Prevention

Alternatively, visit whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov for your lawmaker’s contact information and then email them a request to support these bills. Let them know you are a constituent, and your address. You can note points such as:

🔸 The fair redistricting amendment, SJ18 / HJ71, will finally give citizens a voice and add racial and ethnic fairness. 

– The guardrail bills, SB 203 & 204 / HB 758, make it even stronger. 

– Only an amendment can change the constitution. A law doesn’t have that power.

🔸 Voting is every citizen’s honor and responsibility. Being required to state an excuse for absentee voting deters voters. Please copatron and vote for no excuse absentee voting bills SB 45, 111, 859, 879 / HB 1, HB 25, HB 27.

🔸 We need common sense gun safety. Please especially cosponsor and vote for SB 70 / HB 2, for universal background checks, and SB240 / HB 674, extreme risk protection order / red flag legislation.

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Gun Violence Legislation

Christine Payne, LWV-Williamsburg

We have a gun violence problem in the Commonwealth. Since the tragic mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007, the General Assembly has demonstrated a woeful lack of political will to enact any meaningful legislation to address the greater-than 1000 gun deaths each year. Virginia Voters spoke out on November 5th. They elected a majority who ran on the commitment to enact evidence-based legislation intended to reduce gun violence in our communities. A Forbes study reported that gun safety was the top issue for Virginia Voters. “It’s clear that the public doesn’t just support gun safety, but are now deciding their votes based on where candidates stand on gun policy.”

Currently, attention has been focused on the extremist gun lobby’s attempt to promote sanctuary status as it applies to gun ownership. A concerted effort to designate localities as 2nd Amendment Sanctuaries has grown, primarily in rural counties. These largely symbolic gestures have no basis in the law.

The 2020 General Assembly session promises to bring real change to the state code as it pertains to dangerous weapons. The LWV Gun Violence Prevention Interest Group advocates for legislation intended to enhance public safety while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. We will maintain our vigilance during the session, and communicate with our state senators and house delegates. Thus far, bills that have been filed to address Gun Violence in the Commonwealth reflect those filed during the Governor’s Special Session in July. Policies addressing who can have weapons and legal mechanisms to remove them from dangerous individuals are essential and include categories of prohibited purchasers; intersection with domestic violence; disarming prohibited purchasers; extreme risk protection orders; and minimum age. These policies are built on cornerstone legislation, Universal Background Checks, the foundation upon which all other gun violence prevention policies must build.

[CONTINUED FROM NEWSLETTER]

The following information is from the original VA Gun Bills Chart: Ruth Hoffman December 8, 2019

Area: Universal Background Checks

  • Objective
    • Impose mandatory background checks on all sales with exceptions for certain family; penalties
  • Senate Bill
    • SB12 Saslaw; Firearm transfers; criminal history record information; penalty Class 1 misdemeanor charge transferor, no penalty on transferee
    • SB70 Lucas;Firearm transfers; criminal history record information checks; penalty Class 6 Felony on transferor/Class 1 Misdemeanor on transferee 
  • House Bill
    • HB2 Plum; Firearm transfers; criminal history record information checks; penalty (companion bill to SB; also establishes appropriations) 

Area: Extreme Risk Protective Order 

  • Objective
    • Allow law enforcement officials, often at the request of family members, to petition a judge to temporarily remove firearms from a person behaving dangerously before tragedy occurs. 
  • Senate Bill 
    • Legislation Pending
  • House Bill
    • Legislation Pending

Area: Child Access Prevention (CAP)

  • Objective
    • Prevent young people from accessing firearms to reduce youth-related gun violence, unintended shootings and suicide.
  • Senate Bill
    • SB18 Saslaw; Firearms criminal history record information checks, age requirements, penalty. 
    • SB75 Howell; Minors; allowing access to firearms, penalty
  • House Bill
    • HB72 Kory; Children; allowing access to firearms by children; recklessly leaving loaded, unsecured firearm

Area: Lost and Stolen Weapons

  • Objective
    • Require individuals to report their lost or stolen weapons to law enforcement within 24 hour of discovery to reduce the flow of  illegal guns
  • Senate Bill
    • SB67 McClellan; Firearms; reporting lost or stolen, civil penalty.
  • House Bill
    • HB9 Bourne (Companion Bill)

Area:  1 Gun a Month

  • Objective
    • Reinstate the limitation on purchasing no more than 1 handgun a month, repealed in 2012. Reduce the flow of illegal guns.
  • Senate Bill
    • SB22 Saslaw; SB69 Locke; Handguns; limitation on purchases, penalty
  • House Bill
    • Legislation Pending

Area:  Ban on Dangerous Weapons

  • Objective
    • Prohibit weapons designed to maximize lethality from civilian ownership, including semi-automatic assault rifles, suppressors, high capacity magazines and bump-stocks
  • Senate Bill
    • SB14 Saslaw; Trigger activators; prohibition, penalty.
    • SB16 Saslaw; Assault firearms and certain firearm magazines; prohibiting sale, transport, etc., penalties.
  • House Bill
    • Legislation Pending

Area: Disarm Domestic Violence

  • Objective
    • Protective Orders should prohibit respondents from possessing firearms. Broaden restraining order to include temporary orders, dating partners and a relinquishment law to ensure that firearms are removed from abusers.
  • Senate Bill
    • SB76 Howell; Protective orders; possession of firearms, penalty.
  • House Bill
    • Legislation Pending

The 28th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr Vigil and Advocacy Day for the Victims of Gun Violence will be held Monday, January 20th, beginning at 2 p.m.on the Capitol Steps, in Richmond. This will be followed by legislator visits in the Pocahontas Building, beginning at 3 p.m.

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TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to Pass Sensible Gun Laws

From LWVUS:

It’s time to stop the violence. Legislation with common sense solutions to prevent gun violence will protect our children, our citizens and help restore our public confidence. Tell Congress to move forward with common sense gun legislation.
 
Add your voice to that of the millions of children, parents and concerned Americans calling on Congress to move legislation that ends the gun violence that is plaguing our nation. Some of the proposed solutions include closing the gun show loophole, increasing penalties for straw purchases of guns, banning assault weapons, placing limits on high capacity ammunition magazines, and funding research to report on gun violence in America.
 
Curbing gun violence is a critical matter of public safety and public health. Tell Congress this issue is too important to ignore any longer and that common-sense solutions to gun violence will save lives.
 

Go to this webpage to get the information you need to contact your elected officials http://participate.lwv.org/c/10065/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=13314&okay=true

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Testimony at the VSCC Hearing by Carol Noggle

Statement by Carol Noggle at VSCC Hearing:

Links to videos:
August 19th                August 20th

Re: Goals of the Virginia Crime Commission and objectives for legislation

Mr. Chairman and Members,

You have been given a mandate to establish urgent and vigorous action to prevent the deaths, the violent deaths, of Virginians by guns.

Accept this mantle of leadership and responsibility to take necessary steps to prevent violence and provide security. It will take energy and perseverance and compromise — maybe even daring action and new approaches.

Please proceed with unity against this violence and the fear of violence.

Fear – in our schools, at work, in churches, on the street, in neighborhoods, in homes –now prevails without effective changes for safety.

Partisanship and “drawing lines in the sand” are a waste of energy that can block the energy needed for finding solutions.

Former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in his State of the Union speech in 1941 that there are four essential Freedoms:

Freedom …of speech and expression

         Freedom… of worshipping in our own way

         Freedom…  from want…. And…

         Freedom from Fear. 

But I do not mean to focus on fear but on hope and on confidence in your leadership, your problem-solving skills, and your dedication that will yield solutions that are best for Virginians.

Resources: These sources of studies and data for decision-making by the Commission are offered as you proceed to make recommendations for legislation.

Stanford University School of Medicine News:

http://med.stanford.edu/nandews/all-news/2018/11/lax-state-gun-laws-linked-to-more-child-teen-gun-deaths.html

New England Journal of Medicine:

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsr1804754

Statistics from CDC

https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/01/health/youth-injury-death-rate-cdc-study/index.html

Carol Noggle

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Testimony to VSCC 8/20/19, Morgan Johns

Morgan Johns’ testimony before the Virginia State Crime Commission hearings on proposed Gun Safety Legislation. Here is her statement:

Links to videos:
August 19th                August 20th

Good afternoon,

 

My name is Morgan Johns and I appreciate the opportunity to speak today.

 

Young people are always looking down at their phones, aren’t they? Scrolling through selfies, sunsets – shooting, shooting, #Gilroystrong,  #Daytonstrong, #ElPasostrong, 34 dead, 64 wounded in one week – we are algorithmically predisposed to look down because we are terrified to look up.

 

I once missed days of school because two students were planning to open fire during an evacuation they’d instigate. They’re still in jail. Earlier this year, I was standing across the wall from shots fired in student housing. A couple of weeks ago, I was threatened to be “shot in the face” on the street.

 

By keeping military-grade weapons easily accessible, you are drafting people like me onto the front lines. It should go without saying that more gun usage means more potential for gun violence. That is kindergarten logic – and if you think that comparison is inappropriate, remember that they are currently being told to lay still and act dead in active shooter drills. That is how you are raising the next generation. 

 

In response to the opposition – 

 

If you claim self-defense as a motive, I would ask – from whom are you actually defending yourself? Chances are, it is an irrational, hate-based fear. Of course your individual life is important, but to protect it against a pretense at the expense of hundreds dying weekly is shameful.

 

Speaker Cox’s original recommendation for Governor Northam to respond to Virginia Beach through our same protocols as Parkland and, more notably, Virginia Tech, is incredibly ignorant to the exponential frequency and normalization since them. Not to mention that those supposed protocols failed to prevent the 11,000 deaths occurring as a result.

 

Today, the opposition itself has stated that universal background checks, magazine limits, and mental illness checks would not have prevented any mass shootings from VT forward – thus, inherently arguing that the only prevention could have been a lack of gun access. As someone said, sober drivers are not to blame for drunk driving accidents – but alcohol is.

 

I have witnessed many such as this, where leaders did just that – hearing – not necessarily listening. Remember that the line separating the two is only ever as wide as the thread used to stitch up a bullet wound.

 

Thank you.

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LWV-VA President Deb Wake Testifies at VSCC

President Deb Wake represented the League of Women Voters® of Virginia during the public comments session of the Virginia State Crime Commission hearings on proposed Gun Safety Legislation.
Here is her statement:

Links to videos:
August 19th                August 20th

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization formed nearly 100 years ago out of the Suffragist Movement.  After women won the right to vote, it was important to educate the new voters through the study of issues and the formation of positions through consensus.  These positions also serve as the basis for advocacy. Our positions on gun safety can be found on the national website: https://www.lwv.org/impact-issues.  “From its inception, the League …worked for equal rights and social reforms. In the early years, the League was one of the first organizations to address such issues as child welfare, maternal and child health programs, child labor protections, and laws that discriminated against women….In the 1990s, concern for violence prevention spurred a new League position and brought strong support for commonsense measures to control gun violence. The League supported the Brady bill and sought to close loopholes that undermine consumer safety.”

 

The League of Women Voters does not support or oppose candidates or political parties.  Instead, we focus on issues and policies. Many of these issues, like gun violence prevention, have become hot-button topics.  It is important when emotions run high on both sides of sensitive issues, to look for common ground and solutions found effective by the overwhelming body of rigorous research.

 

This year we are celebrating the 400th anniversary of Representative Democracy.  We cherish and embrace a form of government that places power in the hands of the people–people who elect their peers to represent them and to make laws for the common good.  We have a public safety health crisis and it is imperative that lawmakers work together for a solution.

 

Yesterday was spent listening to expert testimony and viewing data relating to gun violence.  While it is important to make informed decisions, if we truly care about governance and public safety, there comes a time when lawmakers must make hard choices and pass laws for the benefit of their constituents and for Virginia as a whole.  We have not seen legislative solutions in the wake of mass shootings in the 12 years since Virginia Tech or in the two months since Virginia Beach. It breaks my heart that we are teaching 5-year-olds– 5-year-old children– duck and cover drills because we refuse to pass laws to keep them safe.  Our representative democracy is failing our children and all those who have been victims of gun violence or are fearful of becoming victims because we have no laws to protect them.

 

The problem is not gangs.  The problem is troubled people with easy access to guns.  The League of Women Voters of Virginia has reviewed the studies. We urge you to support universal background checks with a waiting period, to make sure that those who should not have guns are not able to easily access them.  We urge you to support red flag laws to protect those who would harm themselves or the people close to them. We urge you to strengthen permanent protective orders and to provide access to emergency protective orders disarming domestic abusers. We urge you to adopt stronger child access prevention laws. Researchers in Virginia and throughout America have found that these are effective solutions for preventing suicides and homicides.

 

 

A recent Wason Center poll found that the vast majority of Virginians want true, effective action.  (https://cnu.edu/wasoncenter/surveys/2019-07-03-gun-issues-survey/) States with stronger gun laws see fewer children dying of gunshots. Gun availability is a risk factor for homicide and for suicide. The facts are clear. As a nonpartisan organization of thousands of Virginians, we urge you to stop delaying and to take action now.

 

Deb Wake (she/her)
President

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Action Alert 8/19 & 8/20 Gun Violence Bills at VCC

As we near the Virginia Crime Commission meeting on gun violence prevention bills, please contact your legislators to support and oppose legislation.

Issue:  The Virginia State Crime Commission will meet August 19 and 20 in Richmond to discuss bills from the July 9 Special Session on Gun Violence Prevention.
 
Actions Requested:

Support/Oppose Description
Universal background checks with a waiting period,
Police or family to petition a court for an “extreme risk protection order,”
Stronger permanent protective orders and emergency protective orders disarming domestic abusers, and
Stronger child access prevention laws 

Crime Commission members’ names and contact information are here.

Additional Talking Points are here.

Please remember that you are advocating as a constituent, not on behalf of the League. Thank you. Status of the Bills: the Crime Commission is accepting public comment on the bills. The General Assembly will reconvene November 18 and may vote at that time.

Comment in Person: If you would like to provide a two-minute public comment in person in Richmond, sign up information is here.  We recommend arriving well before the sign-up time officially begins. 
 
Please respond to this Action Alert in a timely manner. Thank you. 
 
For more information, see: Brady Campaign 🔹  Moms Demand Action 🔹 EFSGV  
 

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Virginia State Crime Commission Meeting – Gun Safety Bills

The Virginia State Crime Commission will take up gun legislation from the Special Session on

Monday, August 19th 10:00 A.M. House Committee Room
and
Tuesday, August 20th Noon, House Committee Room

Public comment will be taken for the first 3  hours (more details will be announced in the coming weeks on how to sign up to speak) • Patron bill presentations

Members of the Commission: http://vscc.virginia.gov/members.asp
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Press Release Post July 9th Special Session

 

Virginia legislators missed an important opportunity during today’s General Assembly’s Special Session on Gun Legislation. 


RICHMOND – Statement by Deb Wake following the Virginia General Assembly’s vote to adjourn the Special Session on Gun Legislation without taking any action.

“The Special Session was a critical opportunity for a productive discussion about how we can mitigate gun violence in our state. We are deeply disappointed and saddened that the opportunity has been lost with the inaction of the General Assembly today,” said Deb Wake, President of the League of Women Voters of Virginia. “We believe there is a need for common sense gun laws to protect Virginians from gun violence. With almost 1,000 Virginias killed by gun violence every year, delays on legislation continue to place the safety of our families and children at risk. It is time for us to work together to pass legislative solutions to protect our children and our citizens from gun violence in Virginia.”

Deb Wake, President
League of Women Voters® of Virginia

 

 

 

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