Gov. Youngkin Vetoes Bills to Protect Survivors of Domestic Violence

Gov. Youngkin Vetoes Bills to Protect Survivors of Domestic Violence

Gov. Glenn Youngkin vetoed HB46 and SB47, sponsored by Del. Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, Sen. Barbara Favola, critical bills to protect survivors of domestic violence. Nearly one third of all homicides in Virginia are domestic violence related, and nearly two thirds of domestic violence homicides in VA are committed with a firearm. The bills would not have affected law-abiding gun owners and would have saved lives.

"Our focus was clear – we wanted to protect survivors of domestic violence from gun violence and save lives. I am deeply disappointed that Governor Youngkin chose to veto this basic accountability measure.This veto will mean that illegal guns will remain in the hands of armed abusers and make our Commonwealth less safe,” said Del. Bennett-Parker of Alexandria.

“Fully one third of Virginians are, at some point, endangered by the people with whom they share their lives. I am deeply disappointed that given the opportunity to better protect innocent lives, uphold our laws against domestic abusers, and lift up families, this governor has instead turned his back. Women deserve better,” said Sen. Barbara Favola of Arlington.

“These bills were crafted with input from law enforcement, judges, and domestic violence survivors and advocates. It’s past time that we give law enforcement, courts, and advocates the tools that they need to enforce and implement the law and to save lives, and it is unacceptable that Governor Youngkin denies this,” said Jonathan Yglesias, policy director of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. 

The bills would have closed a dangerous loophole in existing Virginia law to ensure that those convicted of domestic violence do not have access to illegal guns. Current law prohibits convicted domestic abusers from purchasing, possessing, or transporting firearms. However, there is no accountability mechanism to ensure that they surrender, sell or transfer their firearms and many domestic violence survivors share that their abusers still have access to firearms, despite the requirement to relinquish access. 

These bills simply required that the person complete a form for the court with the name and address of the person or entity in possession of their firearm. They also would have applied the same requirements for the transfer found in existing law for individuals subject to domestic violence protective orders and substantial risk orders to convicted domestic abusers to help ensure they do not continue to have access to illegal guns. 

This technical fix would have provided clarity for our courts and allowed for more effective enforcement of our current laws. They would have closed a dangerous loophole in ensuring that the transfer of the firearm - which is already required by law - actually takes place and there is a record in Court.