When it comes to gun violence, perhaps the most insidious deception played on the public is by state and federal legislatures deals with superficial laws. The Virginia House of Delegates excels at pulling the wool over the eyes of the public when it comes to domestic abuse and gun violence.
After the Virginia Tech rampage, the Virginia Senate unanimously passed a law making security plans a requirement for all colleges and universities in the state. The plan specified that college and university presidents had to certify that they had read and understand the plan.
The Virginia lower house, however, refused to pass the bill until the language stating school presidents understood the law was taken out. Striking those words means no school president can be held accountable for failing to follow the security plan. They can always say they did not understand it.
On a cynical note, Virginians must be proud of the fact they have a law stating college and university presidents don’t have to understand what they read.
Now, Richmond has done it again. On July 16, 2016 a new provision of the law prohibits a person who is subject to a family abuse protection order (the respondent) from possessing a firearm. Sounds good, but is it?
Looks and sounds good, right? Well, let’s take a close look.
The law states that after the respondent is served with the protective order, he or she has 24 hours to lawfully possess the weapon solely for the purpose of transferring or selling the firearm to a person who may legally own it. The law does not give the police the power to see that the person being restrained complies with the order. If the respondent says he or she turned in the gun, sold it, or gave it to someone who can possess the gun, law enforcement has to believe him or her. There is no mechanism for ensuring that the person being restrained has truly complied.
Furthermore, if an individual is so violent that the courts have to step in, what makes the legislature think the respondent will suddenly cool off and meekly comply?
And, the law only applies to subjects of family abuse protective orders pursuant to Virginia Code Section 16.1-279.1 and does not apply to individuals subject to an emergency, temporary or other protective order.
The law is nothing more than window dressing; it is in fact, next to worthless. It adds to the growing list of laws in the Old Dominion designed to hoodwink the public into thinking politicians are moving to prevent gun violence.