- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2015

A Virginia Senate panel on Monday killed several gun control initiatives pushed by Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, including bills to require universal background checks on gun show sales and reinstatement of the state’s recently-lifted ban on purchasing more than one handgun per month.

The Courts of Justice Committee mostly rejected bills that tried to impose further restrictions on gun ownership. Senators also voted down other proposals that would have prevented people subject to protective orders from possessing firearms and would have revoked the concealed carry permits of people who fall behind on child support payments.

“I am disappointed to see these common-sense measures to keep Virginians safe fall to special interest politics,” Mr. McAuliffe said in a statement. “Too many families in Virginia and across the nation have lost loved ones to gun crimes that these proposals could help prevent.”

Sen. Adam Ebbin, Alexandria Democrat, had introduced a measure that would prohibit giving a gun to children under 5 years old. He called the measure a “common sense” solution that would help prevent accidental gun deaths of children.

“In gun ownership comes gun responsibility,” Mr. Ebbin said.

But Anna Kopperud, a state liaison for the National Rifle Association, said the proposal set an “arbitrary” age limit, and parents should be able to decide when their children should be introduced to guns. The bill failed to advance.

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Committee chairman Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr., James City Republican, said at the hearing that a bill making it illegal for those convicted of certain violent crimes to transport or possess guns had passed the committee. But the General Assembly’s database of vote results later showed the vote failed by a large margin.

A recent Roanoke College poll showed that 88 percent of Virginians support closing the “gun show loophole” that allows certain vendors to conduct private transactions without background checks, though more Virginians (50 percent) also thought it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns than to control gun ownership (42 percent) and were split on reinstating the one-handgun-a-month law that the legislature voted to repeal in 2012.

Most of the measures supported by the governor and General Assembly Democrats had little chance of advancing through the Republican-controlled legislature, and some Republicans said the effort was a bid from Democrats to fire up their base in a year in which all 140 state lawmakers are up for re-election.

The panel also advanced a few measures favored by gun rights advocates, including one that would provide lifetime concealed handgun permits in the state, rather than the current requirement that they be renewed every five years, and another to allow concealed-carry permit holders to carry guns onto school property outside normal school hours.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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