Press Release: Republicans in Finance Punt on Domestic Violence Bill: Sen. Favola Vows to Fight On
Richmond, VA – After many twists and turns, Republicans in Senate Finance Committee punted on a bill protecting domestic violence victims, SB 943. Yesterday SB 943 was included in a block of bills passed by for the day, but the committee never addressed the bill this morning. Passing the bill by for the day (instead of recording a vote on the bill’s merits) cleverly avoided the publicity of killing a bill that would protect domestic violence survivors at the expense of convicted offenders.
Carried by Senator Barbara Favola (D-Arlington), SB 943 prohibits the possession or transportation of firearms for individuals convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors: stalking, sexual assault, and assault and battery of a family or household member. The bill provides for the possible restoration of rights after one year.
Sen. Favola: “I am saddened for the domestic violence survivors and their families who would have been protected by provisions in this bill. SB 943 represents a common sense measure to limit gun access for convicted criminals, not take guns away from law-abiding citizens. Studies show that violent behavior always escalates. We should be making policy based on an evidence-based approach.”
Senator Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover County) cited lack of funds as justification for the bill’s failure. Other firearm bills from the Governor’s initiative, however, were killed in the Courts of Justice subcommittee last week, freeing up adequate funds. SB 943 is estimated to have a fiscal impact of $50,000 annually, a blanket number given to any piece of legislation impacting correctional facilities.
Despite the Finance Committee’s decision, Senator Favola vows to introduce an amendment for funding this measure on the Senate floor.
At least two people die every day from firearm-related injuries in Virginia. Domestic violence disproportionately affects women, who represent 85% of all domestic violence victims. In domestic violence situations, a woman’s chances of being killed increases five times if the abuser has access to a firearm. The Virginia Sheriff’s Association, Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police support the bill.