RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The debate over gun control took center stage as lawmakers met Monday to talk about several gun measures.
Hundreds of gun rights activists who flooded Capitol Square waited in long lines as they hoped to have their voices heard by lawmakers. Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins spoke in support of gun rights at the state Capitol.
“Simply put, there are more guns in this country than there are citizens. All you’re gonna do is drive up the cost for the criminal to purchase those guns,” Jenkins said. “Evil will still be committed.”
Despite protesters’ best efforts, four gun control bills moved forward on Monday. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted in support of several gun control bills that support red flag laws, universal background checks, gun-free spaces and restrictions on buying guns.
So far, Republicans have been open to talking about background checks but haven’t said which bills they support.
Christine West with Moms Demand Action said she’s glad to see these measures move forward.
“We are so excited to finally have some good gun sense bills move out of committee for once. Normally everything goes to committee and dies so we’re really excited to finally see some good movement on this,” West said. “I work with children and have nieces and nephews that I care very much about. Seeing these school shootings and seeing them have to do lockdown drills, they’re terrified.”
Catherine Mortensen, a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, said lawmakers are “punishing honest, hardworking Virginians” in a statement following the party-line votes to pass the measures through the committee.
“Regrettably, Virginia lawmakers approved a series of measures today that will make it harder for law-abiding Virginians to protect themselves, while doing nothing to stop criminals,” Mortensen said. “We are pleased one of the most egregious gun confiscation bills was pulled from consideration. The NRA will continue our work with lawmakers to find solutions that address the root cause of violent crime, rather than punishing honest, hardworking Virginians.”
The bills will now go to the Senate floor for a full vote.