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Northern Virginia Lawmakers Say Gun Control Remains a Tough Fight

Sen. Dick Saslaw says it's tough to get a bill offering more controls on guns through the Virginia General Assembly. Sen. Adam Ebbin agrees.

Trying to get more stringent gun control legislation through the Virginia General Assembly is something of a losing battle, according to at least two state lawmakers representing Northern Virginia.

Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-35th) lamented that he’s tried multiple times to tighten up Virginia’s gun rights, but to little avail.

He told audience members of a state legislative forum held at Alexandria’s City Hall that three years ago he introduced a bill after a man shot and killed two police officers before shooting and killing himself.

Saslaw said in response, he introduced a bill making it illegal in Virginia to bring a gun onto police grounds. The Senate then narrowed that measure by making it illegal to bring a gun into a police station. House members ultimately killed the bill.

“When you can’t get a bill through to ban private citizens from bringing guns to the secure area of a police station…,” Saslaw said, throwing up his hands exasperatedly. Saslaw serves on the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, which is responsible for legislation dealing with public safety. He also unsuccessfully fought against the repeal of the one-gun-a-month law, which limited handgun purchases in Virginia to one per 30 days for an individual.

What would it take to see more stringent controls, asked Saslaw. If someone with a gun acting irrationally goes into the building near I-66 and Route 50 (the headquarters of the National Rifle Association), “you might get sensible gun control,” he said.

Saslaw added that of the 39 gun-related bills making their way through the Virginia state house last session, the NRA was involved in just four of them.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League was the voice involved in most of them, Saslaw said. The senator described the league’s members as pulling out of the NRA and forming their own group because they saw the NRA as too liberal.

The nonprofit Virginia Citizens Defense League is dedicated to advancing the fundamental human right of all Virginians to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment and Article 1, Section 13 of Virginia’s constitution, according to its website.

Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30th) said he intends to introduce a bill during the upcoming session that would require people to report stolen guns, although he also noted that gun-control legislation never quite sails through the chambers.

Saslaw also recounted that he received an email from an army captain who called Saslaw an idiot for trying to put more stringent controls on gun use and said the captain wrote “I’d never dream of walking down the streets of Kabul without a gun.”

Saslaw said people need to realize that Fairfax County is not Kabul.

“These people, where are they coming from?” he said, adding, “Certainly not from Northern Virginia.”

Cargosquid December 11, 2012 at 07:07 PM
The tears of gun controllers are pleasant. The cries of gun banners are music. Keep trying to take away rights, Saslaw, and we'll keep protecting them. And the gun-owners are most certainly living in Northern Virginia.
Michael Toms December 11, 2012 at 07:59 PM
If someone acting irrationally with a gun goes into the NRA building they are going to get shot since a large percentage of their staff carry handguns everyday.
Lee Sort December 11, 2012 at 08:04 PM
I have friends who work at the NRA building. Mr. Saslaw clearly does not. If a person walks into that place and starts acting "irrationally with a gun," he won't be doing it for very long. Just about every Great American there carries a self-defense gun and knows how to use it. It would be an example of how firearms freedoms work and restrictions don't. This is probably confusing to Mr. Saslaw but all I can do is try.
Beaufort Woodless December 11, 2012 at 08:40 PM
"Lamented that he's been unable to tighten up rights". In the context of the oath he took to support and defend the Constitutions of the US and of The Commonwealth, I would say that Sen. Saslaw should be ashamed of himself. Maybe these servants of the people should focus their efforts on something beside depriving law-abiding citizens of their natural right to self defense.
Bill Tansill December 12, 2012 at 03:58 AM
I hate to break it to Mr. Saslaw. but I am a proud VCDL member and have made a number of forays to Richmond to lobby with other VCDL members for less restrictions on firearms. I have been armed at every rally, and have, along with other VCDL members, met with various representatives. Neither I nor any of my fellows have ever shot anyone - imaging that. And yes, I live in Northern Virginia - in Fairfax County, specifically. Where do we come from? We come from wherever free people live, Mr. Saslaw.

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