People accused of stalking or domestic violence in Virginia who are subject to a protective ordercannot carry a gun.
People convicted of stalking or domestic violence in Virginia can.
State Del.-elect Marcus Simon, who represents parts of the greater McLean and Falls Church areas, has pre-filed a bill in Richmond to close what he sees as a loophole.
"It's sort of a common-sense protection from folks being retaliated against," Simon told Patch. "We want people to be able to come forward and report domestic violence."
Simon's bill would make it a felony for anyone convicted of stalking, sexual battery or assault and battery of a family member that results in serious injury from possessing or carrying a firearm for five years.
The bill also provides an avenue for those convicted to petition the court to reinstate their rights.
For Simon, it's picking up a piece of legislation that his predecessor, retired Del. Jim Scott, championed for years.
Often the bill never made it out of the House Committee of Militia, Police and Public Safety, according to a Connection Newspapers story in 2007.
In an Associated Press story in 2000, then-House Speaker Morgan Griffith, a Salem Republican, actually argued that victims of domestic violence may refuse to call police "for fear that their spouses may lose their rights to have guns."
Scott's bill died in committee that year, too.
Simon believes that telling a victim that their abuser would be subject to going back to jail if they are caught with a weapon within five years of conviction would make the process safer.
"That's a big challenge, getting cooperation from witnesses because they're afraid of retaliation," he said.
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