2 Henrico delegates offer different plans for reducing gun violence
Two Henrico delegates agree measures need to be taken to lessen gun violence, but offer different approaches to regulation.
Del. Joseph Morrissey, D-Henrico, is focusing on a bill that would ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that hold 20 or more rounds.
HB 2207 would make the import, sale, barter and transfer of assault firearms a Class 6 felony, and the import, sale, barter and transfer of high-capacity magazines a Class 1 misdemeanor, respectively. Law enforcement officers and military personnel would be exempt from this legislation.
“To me it’s an absolute no-brainer to ban these assault weapons,” said Morrissey, who has served as a delegate since 2008.
The federal ban on assault weapons expired in 2004, and now Congress is considering reintroducing this legislation in the wake of recent mass shootings.
President Obama and Vice President Biden spoke on Wednesday encouraging Congress to pass legislation to help reduce gun violence including: stronger background checks, bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, increased safety measures at schools and greater access to mental health services.
“I think Virginia ought to act now,” Morrissey said. “There is no use, legitimate use, for these automatic rifles and high capacity magazines, save causing mass carnage and destruction.”
The gunmen used these weapons and magazines in the mass shootings at Virginia Tech, Aurora, Colo. and Newtown, Conn.
“There is no place for these weapons except for perhaps on the battlefield,” Morrissey said.
These guns are not used for sport, for target practice or for defending yourself, he said.
“A blind person, pointed anywhere near it, could hit a target with 100 shots,” he said.
Del. John O’Bannon, R-Henrico, does not believe that the best route for reducing gun violence is through changing the current laws regulating firearms, but instead the focus should be on offering more help to people with mental illness.
“Virginia’s already had one terrible disaster in a school at Virginia Tech,” he said, “and we actually learned a lot from that. We responded and did some things to try to improve the way we handle folks who have mental heath issues, mental illness. And I really think we have a lot more opportunity to make things safer and reduce the chance of that happening in that venue.”
Gov. Bob McDonnell put together a school safety task force with a group focusing on education and another focusing on mental health. O’Bannon is a member of the mental health portion of the task force under Bill Hazel, Virginia secretary of health and human resources. The group is meeting this afternoon.
HB 2207 was assigned to the House Militia, Police and Public Safety subcommittee #1, which was set to meet Jan. 17.
Reynolds Community College will host Richmond sculptor Paul DiPasquale Sept. 28 as he shares his presentation “Art Talk, Why Art Matters” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Conference Center Gallery of the Workforce Development and Conference Center on the Parham Road Campus, located at 1651 E. Parham Road in Richmond. This event is free and open to the public. > Read more.
The Children's Clothing Closet at Highland Springs United Methodist Church will be open Saturday, Aug. 27 and Tuesday, Aug. 30 to provide free new or nearly new children's clothing for families in need, prior to the start of the school year. The Clothing Closet will be open from 10 a.m. to noon both days. The church is located at 22 North Holly Avenue. > Read more.
For our Top 10 calendar events this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarThe Junior League of Richmond will present its 11th annual Touch a Truck event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Richmond International Raceway. This unique and interactive event allows children to see, touch and safely explore their favorite big trucks and heavy machinery, as well as to meet the personnel who protect, serve, and build the Richmond community. Vehicles on display include tractors, backhoes, emergency responders, utility trucks, and a helicopter. There will also be entertainment, food trucks, games, area mascots and more. Rain or shine. For details, visit http://www.richmondtouchatruck.org. Full text