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Howell: Virginia ‘Going Backwards’ on Gun Safety

by Karen Goff February 3, 2015 at 11:00 am 17 Comments

Sen. Janet Howell and Del. Ken Plum talk to citizens at Reston Community Center Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston) says that the commonwealth is heading in the wrong direction when it comes to gun control measures in Virginia.

“Gun safety measures were defeated in close, almost party line, votes,” Howell said about last week in the current Virginia General Assembly in an email to constituents.

“Sadly, we continue to go backwards on reasonable gun safety measures. Closing the gun show loophole was defeated. My bill prohibiting the possession of firearms by those charged with family violence failed. Also defeated was reinstating the ‘one gun a month’ limit on gun purchases.”

“When in effect, that limitation had effectively stopped Virginia from being the gun running capital of the East Coast. A bill to allow guns on school property passed through committee. Another bill to let concealed weapons permit holders purchase lifetime permits also passed through committee. It is still possible that some of the reckless bills may be defeated during the legislative process. It is not possible that the reasonable gun safety bills (that are supported by almost 90 percent of voters) will pass.”

Howell was the chief patron on SB 909, which prohibits a person who is subject to a protective order from possessing a firearm. Under currently laws, such person is only prohibited from purchasing or transporting a firearm and such conduct is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The bill was defeated 10-4 in the Courts of Justice Committee on Jan. 26.

Said Howell: “During the debate on the gun bills we consistently heard testimony from the NRA and Citizens Defense League on one side and, on the other side, State Police, local police, Commonwealth Attorneys, police benevolent societies, victims groups, Chiefs of Police, and — poignantly — family members of victims of gun violence. Needless to say, the NRA and CDL always prevailed.”

Efforts to repeal the medically unnecessary ultrasound procedure prior to an abortion failed. So did efforts to remove the 24 hour waiting period after the ultrasound procedure.

Another Howell bill, SJ213 proposed the repeal of the constitutional amendment, approved by referendum in 2006, that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman and prohibits the Commonwealth from recognizing same-sex marriage.

That bill again failed on a party line vote. However, Howell says there is the “remote possibility that a bill prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation may pass the Senate.”

In her email, Howell also expressed disappointment over laws she supported once again not passing committees.

Among them:

Several bills aimed at allowing local school boards to determine their own calendar, which sailed again, meaning schools cannot open before Labor Day unless they get a weather related exemption.

“I support letting the local school boards set their own opening date,” says Howell. “However, the tourism industry always defeats the bills.”

Howell says she also supports bills, still in committee, that allow parents to purchase cannabis oil for their children with rare and severe forms of epilepsy. On the House side, Howell’s counterpart, Ken Plum (D-Reston) is the chief patron of a similar bill currently in the Courts of Justice committee.

“I strongly support the bill and really don’t understand the objections,” said Howell. “The children are having dozens, sometimes hundreds, of seizures a day and some seizures are causing brain damage. Because Virginia does not allow use of medical marijuana oils, some families are leaving the state at great personal and professional cost and others are probably breaking the law to help their children. Sometimes I feel we are losing compassion with our inflexible policies to fight drug use.”

Track all of Howell’s — and other senator’s — bills on the Virginia Legislative Session website.

Photo: Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston) and Del. Ken Plum (D-Reston)/file photo

  • Mike Lane

    Senator Janet Howell seems mired in fighting the divisive social issues of yesteryear. I would prefer she try to bring us all together by focusing on bringing economic expansion and job creation to Virginia. How about a bill either increasing accountability of teachers in our schools, or maybe a major tax cut that would leave additional money in the economy for economic investment and expansion?

    • Mike M

      Well said. Hand-wringing over failure to implement what the state seems not to want does no one any good. But that’s the story of Fairfax County’s representation in Richmond.

  • JohnGalt

    When seconds matter the police are minutes away. If someone breaks into my home in the middle of the night, I can’t tell the guy to wait until I call 9-1-1 and hope he doesn’t murder me.

    Of course liberals would like to believe this never happens:

    • Guest

      Hey, FCPD is “Johnny on the spot”–SWAT team and all–when they can extort tens of thousands of dollars from a bunch of neighborhood gamblers.
      And no one (except the stoolie) even had to call them about this nefarious crime against humanity.

  • Dexter Scott

    Their top priorities are things that have no significant real-world effects, but annoy the people they hate (Republicans). They call this “reasonable”. I call it infantile.

  • Guest

    Pictured above are the two most useless legislators in the GA, but we keep re-electing them. WHY?

    • Dexter Scott

      Liberal twits in Arlington/Reston send liberal twits to the legislature. Hilarity ensues!

  • MR_22

    This article has a lot of double-talk. Sen. Janet Howell is quoted as saying she’s against going backwards with regard to “reasonable” gun safety laws, then she goes on to mention numerous utterly unreasonable gun regulations that were recently shot down, including her own. You can’t have it both ways!

    These bills are by no means reasonable measures–and would do nothing to stop gun violence, but only serve to inconvenience and make criminals of otherwise law-abiding citizens.

    Your “Dr. Feel Good” bills are hereby rejected. Your attempt to stop gun violence is admirable, and we salute you, but your misguided methods are useless and even offensive to us.

    • Mike M

      But Mr 22, don’t you get it? If you you don’t agree with Ms Howell, then YOU are unreasonable. Now why would you ever oppose something that is so reasonable unless you are unreasonable. It’s unassailable semantic logic! (And absolutely nothing else.)

      • MR_22

        Quite true, my fellow unreasonable friend.

  • Rational Reston

    “…we continue to go backwards on reasonable gun safety measures..” So were bills passed that make more dangerous situations? No. Either Senator Howell apparently has problems with words, or would rather throw red meat to her supporters as opposed to finding real solutions to make Virginia a better place.

    I think it would be more reasonable to say that no progress was made in curtailing legal gun ownership would be a better application of the English language to her legislative failure.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    Someone please explain to me why it’s okay to require a background check to purchase a weapon at a gun store but not okay when it’s at a gun bazaar?

    • Mike M

      How many of the high profile mass murders that triggered this “reasonableness” would have been inconvenienced by ANY of these proposed laws? The answer? NONE! Hence the posts above.

      I want to be able to go buy two or three when I am ready. That’s none of your business nor is it the government’s business.

      You are a concerned, hip, metro-sexual. I get that. I am not. Can you get that?

      • Chuck Morningwood

        So, the only gun control laws worth having are those that inconvenience high-profile mass murders? That’s a pretty low standard.

    • MR_22

      “Someone please explain to me why it’s okay to require a background check to purchase a weapon at a gun store but not okay when it’s at a gun bazaar?”

      Do mean gun show? I’ve never heard the term “gun bazaar.”

      Most guns sold at “gun shows” DO require a background check, despite what your media outlet is telling y ou. What you hear from the media is generally false. It *IS* possible to buy a gun from a private seller at a gun show, but that’s actually not very common. Generally most (if not all) venders at a gun show are dealers and do require a background check.

      The 40% number you hear about guns sold from gun shows that don’t require checks is completely bogus. Not only is it a guess, but it was a guess from 20+ years ago and is not valid today.

      The reason a background is not required is because when it’s a deal between two private citizens, the federal government can’t regulate that sale, because it’s in-state and beyond the jurisdiction of the federal government. They are able to require background checks for dealers, because guns that dealers have are guns that have generally traveled interstate, so it’s subject to federal interstate commerce laws. In-state sales are not.

      But, even so, most sales at gun shows require background checks, anyway. It’s mostly just the media wanting you to get mad that they aren’t required, because in most cases, they are. The so-called “gun-show loophole” really is not as big of a deal as the anti-gun media wants you to believe.

      “And, oh yeah, how many of you go out and buy more than one gun a month?”

      I’ve actually done that quite often. I’ve bought multiple guns in the same day, many times, atually. For gun collectors, this is a major inconvenience and one, fortunately, my state does not require (as most do NOT).

    • Dexter Scott

      how many of you go out and buy more than one gun a month?

      If it hardly ever happens, we don’t need a law against it, do we?

  • Constance (Connie) Hartke

    I wish every legislator who voted against these common sense bills had been at the CASL soccer tournament in North Carolina this past November. Perhaps if they had personally experienced the shock and horror as their child’s team was told they would not be playing against another team because of this – http://abcnews.go.com/US/teen-killed-gun-discharges-room-man-charged/story?id=26950831 – then perhaps votes would go another way. My grandson’s team won the trophy for that tournament, but every one of our team would give that up to bring back Nathan.


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