The Virginia State Crime Commission released a three-page report that provided no recommendations on Gov. Ralph Northam’s gun control proposals.
When Northam proposed several changes to the commonwealth’s gun policies, Republican leadership in the House and the Senate declined to vote on the legislation, arguing that the commission should first review the proposals. After reviewing the policy proposals, the commission was unable to find conclusive evidence that any action would be effective or ineffective.
“Staff determined that inconclusive evidence exists to develop recommendations,” the report found. “While staff researched a wide variety of policies and many other matters related to gun violence, the overall findings from the research were often insufficient, mixed, contradictory, or based on limited methodology. The absence of recommendations should not be interpreted as a finding that no changes to Virginia’s laws are necessary. Any changes to these laws are policy decisions which can only be made by the General Assembly.”
Some of the gun control proposals that received the most pushback from Republicans and gun-rights advocates included a ban on assault weapons, high capacity magazines and silencers. Another was Northam’s proposal to expand background checks and implement red-flag laws that would allow a judge to order the removal of guns from a person’s house if that person is deemed to be a potential threat to himself or others.
Other gun control proposals included a ban on purchasing more than one handgun per month and enhanced penalties and mandatory minimums for violating the state’s gun laws.
To study the effectiveness of such proposals, the commission examined literature and reports, reviewed laws in Virginia, other states and the federal government, analyzed data, consulted experts and attended briefings and trainings to learn about the issue. However, the commission ran into several problems, which included limited availability of studies on certain policies, a difficulty isolating the impact of individual policies, and limited methodology or bias in the studies.
Although the commission did not provide recommendations, it stated in the report that its staff could provide technical assistance to legislators by providing information received during the review process.
In last week’s elections, Democrats flipped the Virginia House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate away from Republican control. Gun control was a topic that many candidates focused on. Following the elections, Democratic leaders in both the House and the Senate have said that they plan to move forward on gun control legislation.
The office of Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, did not respond to multiple requests from The Center Square for comment.