Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Action Alert: Virginia Bills SB510- Senator Barbara Favola AND HB48- Delegate Marcus Simon to Restrict (Retroactively) Virginians Convicted of Misdemeanors from Possessing or Transporting Firearms


Update January 10, 2014: 

Companion Bill SB510 has the same issue as I notified you all of below for the House version. 


Original Post:

Today I’m going to post about HB48 patroned by Delegate-Elect Simon. Former Delegate Jim Scott proposed the exact same bill in 2013 HB1410, it failed. 

HB48 proposes:
§ 18.2-308.1:6. Possession of firearms following certain criminal convictions; penalty. 

A. Any person who knowingly and intentionally possesses or transports any firearm, or who knowingly and intentionally possesses, transports, or carries about his person any weapon described in subsection A of § 18.2-308, within a five-year period following his conviction for (i) stalking in violation of § 18.2-60.3, (ii) sexual battery in violation of § 18.2-67.4, (iii) assault and battery of a family or household member in violation of § 18.2-57.2 that results in serious bodily injury, or (iv) any offense substantially similar to clause (i), (ii), or (iii) in the laws of any other state or of the United States is guilty of a Class 6 felony. 

B. The provisions of subsection C of § 18.2-308.2 regarding petitioning a circuit court for a permit to possess, transport, or carry a firearm shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to a person subject to the prohibitions of this section. 

I understand that the intent of Delegate Elect Simon’s 2014 HB48 as it was with Delegate Scott’s version is to align with Federal law, but as with all States their laws and penalties can’t always coincide with Federal mandates. 

I had 4 concerns with the 2013 version and I have the same four concerns with this 2014 carbon-copy.

1-      Sexual Battery is a misdemeanor in Virginia and this bill proposes a felony punishment. We can’t create restrictions against certain citizens who have a misdemeanor conviction that threaten a new felony!

There was supposed to be a “re-draft” of the 2013 version that would have made it a new misdemeanor crime instead of a felony for those were previously convicted of Sexual Battery (for this very reason) but the redraft was never posted nor voted on by the Sub-committee.

If HB48 moves forward during the 2014 session the same amendment would be needed.

2-     There is no start date of July 1, 2014 for this bill if it becomes law. This bill would be retroactive for citizens who were convicted 4 years, 11 months ago or less instead of being applied to those convicted after this coming July. If they are currently gun owners and hunters they will be unknowingly committing a felony because we know the Commonwealth will not notify them ahead of time of the change in law.

By not having a start date this bill is a violation of ex post facto.