Virginia Democrats introduce new gun safety bills

One measure would make it illegal to have any hand in the sale, manufacture, transfer, or purchase of assault firearms. (Photo via Getty Images)

By Isabel Soisson

January 26, 2024

The new year is here, and that means a new slate of gun safety bills are being considered in the Virginia state legislature.

Here’s where those bills currently stand:

House Bill 2

House Bill (HB) 2, introduced by Delegate Dan Helmer (D-Fairfax), seeks to make it illegal (Class 1 misdemeanor) to import, sell, manufacture, purchase, possess, transport, or transfer assault firearms.

The bill would also prohibit any person convicted of this crime from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm for three years after their conviction. The bill would further make it illegal to intentionally sell or purchase an assault firearm.

The bill defines an “assault firearm” as any semi-automatic rifle or pistol that expels one or more bullets at a time, has a fixed magazine capacity of more than 10 rounds, or has the ability to accept a detachable magazine.

Any person under 21 who sells, manufactures, purchases, possesses, transports, or transfers an assault firearm would be found guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, as well.

The bill would also prohibit the sale of any “large capacity ammunition feeding device,” which it defines as a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device manufactured on or after July 1, 2024. These devices are also capable of firing more than 10 rounds.

The Firearms Subcommittee has recommended passage of House Bill 2.

House Bill 22

House Bill (HB) 22, introduced by Democratic Del. Michael Jones, has to do with auto sears, which the bill defines as a device made of metal or plastic that is designed for use in converting a non-automatic firearm to a functionally automatic weapon that can fire multiple bullets simultaneously.

HB 22 would make it illegal (Class 6 felony) to manufacture, import, sell, possess, transfer, or transport an auto sear.

The Transportation and Public Safety Subcommittee has recommended passing this bill.

Other Bills

A number of other gun safety bills have begun working their way through the legislative process so far this year, as well.

House Bill 46, introduced by Democratic Del. Elizabeth Bennett Parker, would prohibit any person subject to a protective order or who has been convicted of assault or battery of a family or household member from possessing a firearm.

Similarly, any person who purchases, possesses, or transports a firearm used in the assault or battery of a person in a dating relationship with the alleged offender would be found guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, under Democratic Del. Adele McClure’s House Bill 362. This bill has been assigned to the Firearms Subcommittee for consideration.

House Bill 113, introduced by Democratic Del. Rip Sullivan, would make it so any person convicted of two misdemeanor driving or boating while intoxicated offenses would be ineligible to possess, purchase, or transport a handgun. The Transportation and Public Safety Subcommittee has recommended passing this bill.

House Bill 466, another bill introduced by Del. Helmer would make it so the Superintendent of State Police and the attorney general would determine whether a concealed handgun permit of a person from another state is valid in Virginia.

Certain firearms are manufactured so that certain parts can be removed and the firearm can go undetected by detection devices, such as the X-ray machines commonly used in airports, government buildings, correctional facilities, and schools.

Any person who manufactures, assembles, imports, purchases, sells, transfers, or possesses such a firearm would be guilty of a Class 5 felony under House Bill 173, introduced by Del. Marcus Simon. The Transportation and Public Safety Subcommittee has recommended passing this bill.

  • Isabel Soisson

    Isabel Soisson is a multimedia journalist who has worked at WPMT FOX43 TV in Harrisburg, along with serving various roles at CNBC, NBC News, Philadelphia Magazine, and Philadelphia Style Magazine.

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