Youngkin vetoes assault weapons ban and other gun safety bills, signs two others

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin gestures after signing a House bill in the conference room at the Capitol on Wednesday March 2, 2022, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

By Isabel Soisson

March 27, 2024

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has signed, vetoed, and suggested amendments to dozens of gun and public safety bills this week. 

One of the more notable measures Youngkin signed into law would make it a felony for parents or guardians to allow a minor to access a firearm despite knowing the child has a history of violent or threatening behavior. The signing of this bill comes in the wake of the death of 13-year-old Lucia Bremer, a Henrico County teen who was shot to death on her walk home in 2022; she was allegedly killed by a peer who had access to his guardian’s firearm.

Sen. Schuyler T. VanValkenburg (D-Richmond), who introduced the legislation following Bremer’s death, called her a “bright light in the Henrico community” in a statement.

“This new law, named in her honor, represents a monumental bipartisan victory, further underscoring the commonwealth’s commitment to keeping Virginia’s children safe in their communities and classrooms,” he said. 

Youngkin also vetoed 30 bills this week, including a measure that would have restricted access to assault weapons by imposing waiting periods to receive a gun after purchasing one. He vetoed another bill that would have imposed a waiting period before purchasing firearms, as well. 

He vetoed other bills that would have banned guns in more public spaces, made it possible to sue the gun industry, and prevented gun dealers who sell firearms out of their homes from being located within one and a half miles of elementary and middle schools.

Another bill that met Youngkin’s veto pen would have prevented people from leaving visible firearms in their vehicles, and another would have created a program to train state law enforcement on the appropriate use of the state’s “substantial risk order law,” or, red flag laws. 

Reg flag laws allow guns to be seized from people who may be a danger to themselves, or others. Supporters of red flag laws say that they help prevent violence, especially mass shootings. 

Senate Minority Leader Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax), who introduced the legislation, criticized Youngkin’s veto on Twitter

“Public safety is about more than mandatory minimums and locking people up longer,” Surovell said.

Youngkin did sign House Bill (HB) 22 into law, making it a felony to sell, possess, or manufacture a device known as an auto sear. 

An auto sear, as defined by the bill, is 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. Auto sears make guns harder to stabilize, so on top of being more deadly, these devices increase the likelihood of bystanders being injured or killed. 

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), there was a 570% increase in the amount of auto sears confiscated by law enforcement between 2017 and 2021 compared to the previous five-year period. 

Richmond Del. Michael Jones said in a statement that this bill was “badly needed.” 

“These devices are flooding into communities like mine, and local law enforcement currently has no mechanism to take them off the streets,” Jones said. “Now, law enforcement has the power to make our communities safer by taking these deadly devices off the streets.” 

In a statement, Youngkin said that the two bills he signed were “commonsense reforms with significant bipartisan support from the General Assembly,” and said that they will “make it harder for criminals to use guns in the commission of a violent act.” He also reiterated his commitment to protecting “the right of law-abiding Virginians to keep and bear arms.” 

Youngkin has also proposed amendments to several bills.

One amendment would specify a ban on firearms in public or private hospitals by preventing them from becoming accessible to people receiving mental health treatment at hospitals. Another bill would create a penalty for “knowingly” possessing a gun with a scratched off serial number; the governor has proposed adding federal definitions of serial numbers to the legislation. Youngkin has also proposed creating a “knowledge standard” for making, selling, importing, or possessing these sorts of weapons, known colloquially as “ghost guns.” 

The governor has also proposed reframing another bill to set up a workgroup that would be tasked with creating a list of rights and responsibilities for parents and guardians who keep firearms in their homes. 

Lawmakers will reconvene on April 17 to consider Youngkin’s initial amendments and vetoes to these bills.

  • 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.



Local News

Related Stories
Share This