Richmond has seen an uptick in gun thefts over the last several years, and often, these guns end up in the wrong hands.
In the Virginia House and Senate, legislators recently struck down a bill that would require gun owners to report missing weapons within 24 hours of noticing they are gone. Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham, who worked with state legislators to bring the bill to the General Assembly floor, described it as a “simple piece of legislation that would allow him and his officers to do their jobs.”
In an effort to curb the stream of unaccounted firearms in our city, HB-43 was introduced. The bill required the lawful owner to report missing firearms within 24 hours, or face a civil fine of no more than 250 dollars. This would help police to keep a list of any missing firearms, and occasionally return stolen property.
The bill was vehemently opposed by the Virginia Citizens’ Defense League, whose membership significantly overlaps with the NRA and who endorsed 7th district-loser Dave Brat. Brat refused to comment on this issue.
“The victim gets punished twice: Once by the theft or loss, and next by the government for not reporting the loss quickly enough,” said the VCDL.
The NRA and VCDL both advocate for responsible gun ownership, making the VCDL’s reaction puzzling for a bill designed to promote that exact purpose. As a responsible gun owner myself, I find it suspect that anyone who owns a firearm would not wish to do their civic duty, and inform the police of a missing firearm in the community.
Shoddy logic from this group shouldn’t come as a surprise. The VCDL’s President, Phillip Van Cleave, in case you’ve forgotten, appeared on Sasha Baron Cohen’s TV show Who Is America. Van Cleave’s scene in the show depicts the VCDL President unironically promoting guns for children as young as three years old — which clearly does not align with responsible gun ownership.
A VCDL spokesperson was quick to point out that “there are times when a lost or stolen gun will not be used in a crime for five, ten, or twenty years.” This logic is blatantly a Red-Herring defense, irrelevant and meant only to deter attention from the issue at hand: and it still admits that the gun will eventually be used in a crime. The police are better off having an idea of how many — and what kind of — weapons are unaccounted for, and gun owners need to take responsibility for handling their firearms with care.
Guns are a huge facet of American life, and that doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon: But without effective regulation, it should come as no surprise that gun-related crimes continue to be magnanimous in our society.