Possible gun waiting period in Virginia angers gun rights supporters, divides lawmakers

Gun rights advocates are pushing back against Virginia legislation that would require people to wait several days before being allowed to purchase a gun.

The bill would force buyers to wait three days after they complete “the written consent form to have a licensed dealer obtain criminal history record information.”

It’s among the proposed range of bills that Democrats say will improve safety, including gun-storage measures and various limits on assault-style weapons, The Associated Press reported.

“It’s totally insane,” said Philip Van Cleave, president of Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun rights advocacy group.

VCDL President, Phillip Van Cleave, speaks at the VCDL rally Monday Jan. 16, 2023 at Capitol Square in Richmond, Va. Van Cleave say that the gun control laws passed in Virginia since 2019 are unconstitutional according to the recent US Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen case. (AP Photo/John C. Clark)

The group and gun-rights proponents rallied Monday at the Virginia Capitol during Lobby Day, an annual day of firearm advocacy.

“It doesn’t help,” Van Cleave argued. “California has a 10-day waiting period, and every time you turn around, there’s major crime going on out there.”

The bill was introduced by Democratic Del. Cliff Hayes, who said the idea came from family members of victims in Chesapeake, where a Walmart supervisor shot and killed six of his co-workers last November.

Police said Andre Bing legally purchased the 9 mm handgun just hours before the killings and left a note on his phone, accusing his colleagues of mocking him.

“If there’s a ‘cooling off’ period, it’s less likely that a homicide by handgun will occur,” Hayes said. “Family members have asked that we do something to help prevent other deaths.”

Van Cleave said it wasn’t fair that one “idiot” could influence policy in such a significant way.

“It’s an excuse to find some way to harass gun owners,” Van Cleave said. “Millions of people in Virginia are going to have their rights curtailed because one idiot bought a gun and did something with it the same day? That’s not how freedom works.”

There are gun waiting periods in D.C. and nine states, including Maryland, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

“Bonnie” and “Clyde” stand in front of the State Capitol entrance on Bank St. on Monday Jan. 16, 2023 at Capitol Square in Richmond, Va during Lobby Day. The couple did not state they were affiliated with any particular militia group only that they supported second amendment rights. (AP Photo/ John C. Clark)

In Maryland, the waiting period is seven days for handguns only. In the District, buyers have a 10-day waiting period for all firearms.

Gun violence has devastated other parts of the state. A week before the shooting at the Walmart in Chesapeake last November, three University of Virginia football players were killed after they were shot on campus. Earlier in January, a 6-year-old student shot a teacher during class in Newport News. Also this month, after arguing with his girlfriend a man opened fire, killing a 3-year-old girl in Prince William County.

Some Republicans and allied gun-rights groups hope to roll back measures enacted in recent years when Democrats were in full control of state government, including a red flag law, The Associated Press reported.

A wide range of measures will be debated, but lawmakers from both parties have low expectations about major legislation reaching Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s desk because of the divided party control of the General Assembly, The Associated Press reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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