Lawmakers amend bill banning guns in state buildings, Capitol Square

Lawmakers amend bill banning guns in state buildings, Capitol Square

RICHMOND, Va. (VCU CNS) — Virginia legislators recently accepted the governor’s substitute to a bill banning firearms on and near Capitol Square, as well as in state buildings. Lawmakers voted last year to ban firearms from the state Capitol. Senate Bill 1381 , introduced by Sen. Adam P. Ebbin, D-Alexandria, will make it a Class 1 misdemeanor for a person to possess or transport a firearm or explosive material within Capitol Square and the surrounding area or buildings owned or leased by the commonwealth. Any person convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor may face a sentence of up to 12 months in jail, a fine up to $2,500, or both. Current and retired law enforcement officers, active military personnel and others performing official duties are exempted from the restrictions. Gov. Ralph Northam’s recommendation requested further protection for magistrates. The measure originally allowed magistrates to carry firearms in courthouses, but the substitute now includes magistrates on duty working outside of courthouses and in other government buildings. The Office of the Executive Secretary requested the amendment. “They are on duty in various locations at all times of day, working on sensitive and sometimes volatile situations,” Ebbin said. “Magistrates are required to accept cash bonds. That requires the magistrate to frequently possess large sums of cash.” The Senate passed the substitute along party lines, 21-19. The House agreed to the measure mostly along party lines, 52-46. Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria, sponsored an identical bill that was also amended and passed both chambers. […]

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