Virginia lawmakers voted Friday to ban firearms at the state Capitol, the first in what's expected to be many contentious gun votes in coming weeks.

Newly empowered Democrats who made up a majority of a special rules committee voted to ban guns at the Capitol and a legislative office building despite bitter protests from Republicans, saying the move was needed to protect public safety.

“Our focus here is to keep everybody safe,” said House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn. “These are policies and rules that should have passed a long, long time ago.”

Public officials have expressed concerns about planned Jan. 20 rallies that are set to draw huge crowds of pro-gun and gun-control advocates. Gun advocates from around Virginia and even out of state have pledged to turn out in force to highlight their resistance to proposed gun-control measures.

Democrats initially indicated that the new ban had been recommended by law enforcement.

“I just have to say that this is something that’s been recommended by our Capitol Police. And I think there are times when we sort of have to trust what our law enforcement officers are telling us,” House Majority Leader Charniele Herring said.

But Capitol Police Col. Anthony Pike said after the vote that he made no recommendations on whether guns should be banned, only on how to implement the ban Democrats wanted. The new policy will require that everyone entering the Capitol, except for lawmakers, must go through a metal detector.

GOP lawmakers accused Democrats of rushing through an unnecessary policy and then trying to lay it at the feet of Capitol Police.

“That was a deliberate misrepresentation,” said GOP Del. Kirk Cox. “There's just no way around that.”

The new policy took effect at the end of Friday.

Republicans said visitors to the Capitol and lawmakers should be able to choose to protect themselves as they see fit. Some GOP lawmakers routinely carry guns while at the legislature. One of them, Republican Sen. Amanda Chase, would not say whether she would comply with the new rules.

Virginia's Constitution blocks lawmakers from being arrested during legislative sessions except for egregious crimes, and Pike said Capitol Police will not arrest any lawmakers who violate the gun ban.

Previously, anyone with a valid concealed handgun permit was allowed to bring a gun into the Capitol. Weapons were banned in certain parts of the building, which was designed by President Thomas Jefferson, including the Senate gallery and the governor's office on the third floor.

One Democratic committee member cited two past incidents in arguing for the new ban.

In 2006, a Republican delegate’s handgun accidentally discharged in his office and was stopped by a bulletproof vest hanging on the door. And in 2017, a Republican state senator left his gun behind in a conference room.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has banned guns from other state buildings, continuing a policy started by his predecessor, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, in 2015.

The debate on whether to ban guns in the Capitol is part of a larger fight over guns that's set to dominate this year's legislative session.

With a full majority at the state house for the first time in a generation, Democrats have promised significant new gun restrictions, including universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and a red flag law that would allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from anyone deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others.

Gun owners are demanding that local government officials establish sanctuaries for gun rights. More than 100 counties, cities and towns have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries and vowed to oppose any new “unconstitutional restrictions” on guns.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(21) comments

LetFreedomRing

A sign reading “Gun Free Zone” will surely prevent any insane murderer from shooting up this place. I mean com’on, there’s a legitimate sign! You simply cannot defeat that!

-Democrat logic

Jeanne T

What is their plan to go after Saturday night specials in the inner cities, where the majority of violent gun crimes occur?

marv

How wonderful it would be if only these "blame an inanimate object" misfits would engage the brain before putting the mouth in gear. Their next obsession will be to

eliminate matches to stop forest fires, and eliminate cars to stop DUI, speeding and

reckless driving, then swimming pools to stop drowning, knives to stop stabbing etc..

All equally ludicrous. If Gov. Northam MD really wanted to save lives why doesn't he do something about the 300,000 lives lost each year from medical malpractice and pharmaceutical screw ups?? We have severe laws about narcotics, but 80,000 kill

themselves each year from them. A CCW applicant has to have a "cleaner" history /background than that required for law enforcement and those with a CCW are the

most law abiding group-BAR NONE-in the nation. Criminals love "Gun Free Zones" where they will have little/no resistance. If stringent gun laws were best explain, NH and Vermont or why VA has less crime than DC or MD. Gun free zones like no fire zones are areas designated by idiots that get people killed. Semper fi.

Chris McHale

Well that should keep out anyone who wants to shoot the place up.

Loudounest

To some of the gun article posters. I feel blessed that you are there 24x7x365 at the ready with your gun in hand to protect us from harm and crime or to defend our shores during a foreign army invasion. What would we do without you! The fact is current gun management doesn't meet our current situation. Laws are a management tool. Rather than a two tap shot you need a 30 round clip? It's ok guns are used in most all suicides, unattended guns get in kids hands, we average a mass shooting once a week somewhere , property and people are shot with stray bullets, there is no maximum age to own a gun and guns are stolen or black-marketed everyday. My suggestion is to get an emotional support puppy or teddy bear to calm your fears. With some common sense gun management laws we will be ok and a whole lot safer! Thanks again!!

marv

Should you have a "hot" robbery your common sense & Teddy Bear will be of great benefit.

MAGAHAHAhahahaha

Isn't this where we would expect a post about "Elections have consequences" about now?

Waterfordresident

Tell us how many people die each week from driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs and let’s add in using mobile devices? But Democrats doesn’t care about those numbers. All pun intended...those numbers Trump deaths by firearms which most of those numbers are suicide.

Huh.

Actually, motor vehicle deaths have steadily decreased nationwide, while gun deaths have increased. In fact, in 2014, gun deaths outnumbered vehicle deaths in 21 states and DC. But truthfully comparing gun deaths and vehicle-related deaths is a false equivalency. The percentage of people using cars far outweighs the number of people using guns, so when averaged out, there are more gun deaths than vehicle-related deaths.

Loudoun1965

If "comparing gun deaths and vehicle-related deaths is a false equivalency," then why does the left insist that there is no difference between registering a car and registering a gun? Can't have it both ways.

Waterfordresident

Article doesn’t mentioned this ban does not apply to them. It makes it seem like they will not be arrested by capital police. From what I read they are exempt. Just another way the Democrats feel their lives are more important. I will definitely tell you I will never handover my firearms to the government.

AFF

I find it hard to believe that the gun huggers really think one needs a gun during the legislative process.

If you think you need a gun, keep it loaded in your unlocked car like the rest of the responsible gun owners.

ace10

1998 US Capitol building incident? But since the gunman was targeting Republicans, I supposed you're A-OK with it, right? Same for the 2017 Congressional baseball practice shooting in Alexandria? I bet those politicians and staffers would have given anything to be able to defend themselves.

AFF

I mean, who doesn't like running the bases with a glock strapped to their leg? It really helps ones' confidence on the diamond- especially when you slide.

Or perhaps you keep your security blanket, I mean gun, in your sock?

ace10

Yeah, I suppose you're right. No reason for them to have equipment bags with them and backpacks with their gear. You know, when they were pinned down in the dugout praying for somebody to come along and hopefully neutralize the shooter. But I guess it's funny to you. Since they were Republicans.

RoundHillGuy

Let's ask Steve Scalise how he feels about this.

Pac1010

Ah yes more deceit and lies from the democrats who are rapidly destroying the Commonwealth of VA :

"Democrats initially indicated that the new ban had been recommended by law enforcement."

followed by

“But Capitol Police Col. Anthony Pike said after the vote that he made no recommendations on whether guns should be banned, only on how to implement the ban Democrats wanted “

LoudounClear

Reasonable first step in bringing just a little sanity to the issue of guns and society.

ace10

Did you know that the WaPo looked at "mass shootings" and found that 86% of them occur in "gun free zones?" Why do you think that banning law-abiding citizens from carrying in public areas in "sane?"

LoudounPulse

What the state wishes to do on their property is fine with me. What is more troublesome is if new laws come out that restrict public carrying of firearms. Specifically if Democrats try to make it impossible to obtain a permit to carry like they do in Maryland.

ace10

Bloomberg's crew of useful idiots are dutifully executing his demented plan. Building 2 of the Virginia Beach Municipal Center is also a "gun free zone." 12 Dead, 4 Injured. Over 30 minutes of carnage. And then, on the other hand, you have the West Freeway Church of Christ, where the evil-doer was stopped in under ten seconds by armed, law-abiding citizens. Bloomberg has no issues with the first scenario, but apparently loathes the second. Virginia politicians need to turn their brains on and use some logic instead of blindly following their master's wishes. Gun free zones are a failed social experiment. The evidence is overwhelming.

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