TYSONS CORNER, Va. – After the shootings of 20 school children and six employees at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., there were numerous calls for tighter gun control laws and increased school safety in Virginia and across the country.
Two months later, it appears only a few of the suggestions are likely to make it out of Virginia’s General Assembly.
The three bills that appear headed for passage were all recommended by a special task force set up by Gov. Bob McDonnell after the Newtown mass shooting.
One would increase the penalty for carrying a gun or explosive device into a school. A second would provide civil immunity to anyone who reports a threat against a school.
But it’s the third bill that will prompt the most criticism. It is aimed at so- called “straw-man” sales where one person legally purchases a gun for someone who would not be able to own one legally.
“We want to send a message,” says McDonnell.
“If you come in here and you knowingly buy a gun for somebody who is either mentally incompetent or a criminal, the penalties are going to be swift and severe in Virginia,” he says.
But critics say the legislation should have been extended to require background checks on all gun sales, even private ones between individuals.
The governor says there’s very little evidence that guns used in crimes come from such sales.
“I think it’s under one half of one percent,” he says.
The three bills reccommended by the task force have cleared committees in both houses and a vote is expected on them this week.