Virginia gov pours cold water on Dem lawmaker’s gun control blitz, vetos dozens of bills

by Tommy Grant

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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin vetoed more than two dozen gun control bills Tuesday that had sailed through the state’s Democratic-controlled General Assembly before landing on the Republican governor’s desk. 

“I swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia and today, I’ve done exactly that,” Youngkin said Tuesday in a comment provided to Fox News Digital. 

All in, Youngkin took action on a total of 67 bills on Tuesday — including vetoing 30 gun control bills that would “punish law-abiding gun owners,” according to a press release from the governor’s office — amended six other bills related to gun safety and signed four other bills into law that “make it harder for criminal to use guns in commission of a violent act.” 

One of the top pieces of legislation Youngkin vetoed would have made it a misdemeanor to import, sell, manufacture, purchase or transfer so-called “assault firearms,” which are typically understood as semi-automatic firearms such as AR-15s, and high-capacity magazines made after July 1. Versions of that legislation were introduced and passed in both the state House and Senate. 


“The Constitution precludes the Commonwealth from prohibiting a broad category of firearms widely embraced for lawful purposes, such as self-defense. Despite this, certain members of the General Assembly have pursued legislation banning most contemporary semiautomatic firearms and specific ammunition-feeding devices,” Youngkin said in a veto statement on the pair of bills. 

“Virginia has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth has reduced penalties for criminals, contributing to violent crime. Enhancing penalties for crimes committed with firearms will reverse this trend. Our most significant gap, however, has been in our behavioral health system, which is why substantial investments in behavioral health are necessary,” he added. 


Youngkin also vetoed another bill, HB 916, which would have required state police to establish a tracking and reporting system for the state’s already established red flag laws, and provide updates to lawmakers on a regular basis on where red flag orders were being issued. He also vetoed a pair of bills that would have imposed a five-day waiting period for gun purchases, which would begin when a gun purchaser agrees to a background check. 

“The proposed waiting periods would impede individuals facing threats of violence from promptly acquiring a firearm for self-defense,” the governor said in a veto statement. 

Rifles on display

The Republican governor also vetoed House Bill 454 and its Senate version, SB 383, which would have banned guns on college campuses and buildings owned by public universities and institutions of higher education. 

“The Boards of Visitors at Virginia’s institutions of higher education already have the authority to regulate their respective campuses, including implementing firearms prohibitions. This allows for consideration of the differences across regions and students’ unique circumstances,” Youngkin said in a veto statement. 


The executive director of the NRA-ILA, the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm, celebrated the governor’s vetoes as a “refusal to bow to unconstitutional overreach.”

“Governor Glenn Youngkin’s courageous veto of dozens of ill-conceived gun control bills is a resounding victory for the Second Amendment in Virginia. His refusal to bow to unconstitutional overreach—stopping widespread bans on semi-automatic firearms, blocking ill-conceived laws like arbitrary waiting periods, and unjust age restrictions—underscores his fierce commitment to safeguarding our fundamental rights,” the NRA’s Randy Kozuch said. 

“This is a clear message: Virginia stands firm against the erosion of our liberties. NRA members in Virginia and across the country salute Governor Youngkin’s unwavering resolve to defend the rights of all Virginians against these flagrant assaults on our self-defense rights and our ability to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”

The flood of gun control bills comes after Democrats saw big wins in local elections, holding control of the State Senate, and claiming control of the House of Delegates following Election Day 2023. Youngkin, earlier this month, had signaled he was likely set to veto many of the gun control bills after vetoing a piece of legislation on March 8 that would have required individuals accused of domestic violence and subject to a protective order to turn over their firearms. 

Glenn Youngkin speaking to the press in early 2022 wearing a dark grey suit and red tie


“I strongly urge the General Assembly to shift its focus towards proven strategies aimed at combating violent crime, mandatory minimums for armed criminals and the presumption against bail,” Youngkin said in a statement earlier this month. 

The General Assembly can override the vetoes with a two-third majority vote from both houses, but Democrats do not have the numbers to support that effort, the Associated Press previously reported. 

Democrats in the state argue that stricter gun control laws would drive down crime and violence, while pointing to mass shootings such as the one at UVA’s campus in 2022 as evidence that laws need to change. Republicans have meanwhile argued that criminals will skirt gun laws and that tougher crime policies would better drive down violence than restricting gun access for law-abidding residents. 

“I swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of Virginia, and that absolutely includes protecting the right of law-abiding Virginians to keep and bear arms,” Youngkin said in the press release. “I am pleased to sign four public safety bills which are commonsense reforms with significant bipartisan support from the General Assembly, and offer recommendations to several bills which, if adopted, will make it harder for criminals to use guns in the commission of a violent act.” 

Youngkin signed four public safety bills into law, including HB 36 & SB 44, which prevents parents from willfully allowing their children access to firearms if they pose a credible threat of violence. And another pair of bills, HB 22 & SB 21, which prevent the manufacture, transfer or possession of a device that can convert a gun into an automatic firearm, known as an auto sear. 

The total list of bills Youngkin vetoed include: HB 2 & SB 2; HB 454 & SB 383; HB 585; HB 637; HB 79; HB 799; SB 258; HB 1195 & SB 273; HB 183 & SB 368; HB 1462 & SB 447; HB 318 & SB 491; HB 939; SB 338; HB 175 & SB 99; HB 1174 & SB 327; HB 798; HB 466; HB 362 & SB 642; HB 351; HB 1386, HB 916. 

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