As the legislative lead of the Crozet group of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, I'm happy to see Virginia law has finally caught up with the demands of legal, responsible gun ownership as a slew of new laws take effect July 1.

Virginia law has finally caught up with the demands of legal, responsible gun ownership as a slew of new laws take effect July 1. All Virginians should be aware of these new laws, not just gun owners, to protect our families and communities.

For starters, all private gun sales will require a background check. Federal law prohibits dangerous criminals from possessing weapons, and all gun dealers must conduct an instant background check on gun buyers, but non-licensed private sellers are generally exempt. This exemption allows criminals to obtain weapons from the black market, at gun shows and on the internet. But Virginia joins over 20 other states to close this loophole to disarm criminals, deter trafficking, and protect communities.

Virginians who are worried about the safety of a loved one have a new tool to remove a firearm from a potentially dangerous situation. A new "red flag" law allows law enforcement or commonwealth's attorneys to petition a judge to temporarily disarm someone who poses a threat to themselves or others. Due-process provisions balance both Second Amendment rights and public health and safety. Since suicide attempts with a firearm are the most lethal, and most suicide attempt survivors don't go on to die by suicide, time is of the essence.

To protect children, penalties for recklessly leaving a firearm accessible have been heightened, and safe storage is required at family day homes. Additionally, gun owners must report to law enforcement if their weapons are lost or stolen within 48 hours. Not only will this help police recover and return these guns, but this law will deter trafficking and straw purchases. Also, many gun safes are now exempt from state sales taxes.

These and other laws will not only foster a culture of gun sense and responsibility but prevent gun crime and violence, and save lives.

Mike Fox

Albemarle County

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