(The Center Square) – Virginia Governor Ralph Northam plans to include $ 27 million in his two-year budget proposal to fund data collection and reporting on gun violence in the Commonwealth, he said. it announced on Friday.
The money would establish the Firearms Violence Prevention and Intervention Center, which would be responsible for data collection and reporting. The center, which would report to the Department of Criminal Justice Services, would share information with state and local agencies, higher education institutions, hospitals and other health care facilities, and community organizations.
“We lose a thousand Virginians to gun violence every year, and we must do everything we can to bring that number down to zero,” Northam said in a statement. “The new research center will collect important data that can lead to significant changes. Gun violence is a public safety and public health issue, and we have so much work to do to end this epidemic of violence. This data will save lives.
In the second half of his tenure, Northam worked with Democratic leaders in the House and Senate to pass a slew of gun control bills. Most laws were passed with strong support from the Democratic-controlled House and Senate in 2020 and opposition from Republicans. As the next session of the General Assembly approaches, Republicans will control the governor’s mansion and the House, but Democrats will retain control of the Senate.
Although Northam is proposing the budget before stepping down in mid-January, the new General Assembly will need to vote on the state budget and it will need to be signed by Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin.
Northam’s gun control policies included a Red Flag Act, which allows a judge to order police to confiscate guns from a person’s home if he or she considers that person to be a threat to herself or for others. A person does not need to be convicted of a felony, charged with a felony, or even charged or suspected of a felony for the seizure to be lawful.
Some of the other new laws include a rule that a person can only buy one handgun per month unless the person has a concealed carry permit or other exemption, a ban on carrying weapons in and around the capital of Richmond and a ban on carrying a firearm within 40 feet of a polling station. The governor also signed a law to make background checks more stringent and allow local governments and school boards to impose stricter rules on guns.
The governor said the rules would make the Commonwealth safer, but gun rights supporters argued it would only increase the hardship for law-abiding citizens. Lawmakers failed to pass a law banning assault weapons after facing opposition from Democrats who have large rural voters.