(CNN) — The Virginia House of Delegates passed seven pieces of gun safety legislation on Thursday, signaling its dedication to the gun control priorities it set heading into the 2020 legislative session.
House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, a Democrat, hailed the vote in a release as an “answer” to “the majority of Virginians who called for gun violence prevention legislation at the polls last November.
“The legislation includes measures addressing universal background checks and substantial risk protective orders and limiting the number of handgun purchases by a person to one per month.”
Our goal is to save lives and promote responsible gun ownership in the Commonwealth. Public safety is our number one concern,” Herring said.
The bills will now move to the Virginia Senate for approval. Kate Sarna, a spokesperson for Virginia House Democrats, noted that House leadership expects the bills to pass the Senate. Democrats won majorities in both chambers in November.Republicans in the House were disappointed but had expected the outcome, said Garren Shipley, spokesman for House Republican leader Todd Gilbert. Shipley noted the opposition votes were bipartisan in almost every case and that there had been only 67 minutes of debate on the measures on the House floor.
If passed by the Senate, the bills would then head to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam to be signed into law.
“Virginians are demanding real action to combat gun violence — today, legislators proved they are listening. I’m grateful to my colleagues in the House of Delegates for passing our commonsense gun safety legislation. Make no mistake: these measures will save lives,” Northam said in a statement to CNN.
Since winning control of the state Legislature, Democrats have made it a priority to advance gun control measures. The state Senate recently passed a measure that would create a “red flag law,” which initiates a process to implement temporary protective orders removing guns if the legal owner is determined to pose a threat of harm to self or others.
Democrats’ legislative efforts come as the state has received a backlash from pro-gun groups, including the Virginia Citizens Defense League. That group has led an effort to pass symbolic resolutions declaring counties “Second Amendment sanctuaries” in support of gun rights.
“If anything passes, we are going to be challenging these things,” league President Philip Van Cleave said to CNN. “If they pass — there is still opportunities to stop them — then our next step will be to get a stay and take them [the state Legislature] to court because some of these pieces of legislation are unconstitutional.”
CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi and Karl de Vries contributed to this report.