Group of Virginia Dems unveil gun safety proposals ahead of General Assembly session


RICHMOND, Va. — “I play it back in my mind, Tifah didn’t make it.”

Julia Brown can’t forget the night last April when she lost her granddaughter, Latifah Hudnall, known as Tifah to her loved ones.

The 18-year-old was months away from graduating with her high school diploma and cosmetology license when she was shot outside a convenience store in Richmond. The shooter was sentenced to 9 years behind bars last month.

“She had no business dying, but she died and something good is going to come out of this,” Brown said, holding photos of the teen. “Her life has purpose.”

Making sure Tifah isn’t forgotten, Brown told lawmakers what happened during town halls this year for the Safe Virginia Initiative (SVI). The group formed to come up with recommendations to stop gun violence, after learning that the House Select Committee on School Safety said it wouldn’t cover the issue. The House Select Committee came together following the deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

MORE: Gov. Northam outlines gun control policy agenda

“The issue really is guns, and we really needed to do more,” Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-District 41), one of the SVI co-chairs, said. 

Over a dozen proposals were released on Monday ahead of the 2019 Legislative Session. These ideas, lawmakers say, came from talking to people like Brown about their experiences. Some of the legislation has also been proposed before, lawmakers say. 

Some of the ideas include instituting universal background checks, bringing back Virginia’s “one handgun a month” law, using extreme risk protective orders to temporarily remove firearms from people who are going through a crisis as well as requiring in-person training for someone to get a concealed carry permit. Right now, many can do the training online. 

Gun control is expected to be a major priority for the Governor and Virginia Democrats, as Northam already laid out a package of bills that is very similar to the ones worked on by the Safe Virginia Initiative. 

“The bills that we’re introducing are not focused on taking anyone’s guns away. These are common-sense measures,” Del. FIller-Corn said. 

Republican leaders think otherwise. In the past, many have said there are enough regulations on the books. 

House Speaker Kirk Cox’s Communications Director Parker Slaybaugh said a statement, “With today’s announcement it’s clear their group solely focused on ways to restrict Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens and not practical solutions to protect our students and teachers in the classroom.”

Families still grieving the loss of their loved ones hope lawmakers can work together. 

“If they need to be modified – do that, but they need to do something today,” Brown said.

The 2019 Legislative Session starts Wednesday. Governor Ralph Northam will be giving the State of the Commonwealth Address at 7 p.m. 

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