The Virginia state Senate voted Wednesday to advance a “red flag law” bill, one of many gun safety measures Democrats are looking to move through the state Legislature after taking control of both chambers.
The bill – SB 240, also known as an extreme risk protective order – creates a procedure for authorities, including law enforcement officers and attorneys, to apply for an emergency substantial risk order to prohibit “a person who poses a substantial risk of injury to himself or others from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm.” Under the proposal, if such an order is issued, a judge or magistrate can issue a search warrant to remove firearms from that person.
The state Senate passed the measure in a party-line vote of 21-19. It now moves to the state House of Delegates for consideration.
Jake Rubenstein, a spokesman for Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, said later Wednesday that the chamber “will deliver” on demands for “common sense gun violence protections.”
“Virginians spoke loud and clear on Election Day demanding common sense gun violence protections, and make no mistake, we will deliver on that mandate,” Rubenstein told CNN.
The state Senate’s vote in support of the measure came just days after about 22,000 gun-rights advocates descended on Virginia’s Capitol to oppose legislation that would restrict access to firearms in the state.
Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam issued a state of emergency last week ahead of the “Lobby Day” rally, banning open and concealed firearms and other weapons from the state Capitol grounds. The rally ended peacefully despite earlier concerns of the potential for violence similar to what had erupted more than two years ago at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, which left one counterprotester dead and several others injured.
Virginia in the past month has been swept up in a pro-gun movement known as “Second Amendment sanctuaries,” or localities that vow not to enforce “unconstitutional” gun laws. Gun rights group The Virginia Citizens Defense League, which has led the effort across the state, says the “grassroots” movement is to advocate gun rights for “law abiding citizens.”
In late 2019, Northam signaled that the gun safety measures would have a successful push in the 2020 legislative session after Democrats took control of the Virginia House and Senate for the first time in more than 20 years.
The so-called red flag law legislation will join other gun measures advanced by the Virginia Senate last week, including a measure on background checks for private firearm transfers, a proposal to limit gun purchases to one handgun a month and legislation that would allow localities to ban firearms in public during permitted events. Those bills are also headed to the Virginia House of Delegates for consideration.
CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi and Karl de Vries contributed to this report.