Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Applauds Advancement of Bill Prohibiting Firearms at Polling Places in Virginia
If passed into law, HB2081 will protect democracy by preventing armed intimidation while voting
RICHMOND — Today, Virginia House Bill 2081, which would ban firearms at polling places, passed the Virginia House of Delegates and now advances to the state Senate. In response, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Senior Director of Advocacy Lori Haas issued the following statement:
“We are one step closer in ensuring the safety of voting – one of our most sacred rights with the advancement of Virginia HB2081. This bill would prohibit any person possessing a firearm within 40 feet of a polling place or an election board while the results of an election are being ascertained or recounted. If passed into law, this measure would protect an essential function of our democracy and allow people to exercise their constitutional rights free of intimidation or fear.
“CSGV applauds Delegate Mark Levine for protecting our democracy by introducing this crucial piece of legislation and being a staunch leader in gun violence prevention efforts within the Commonwealth. We look forward to his continued partnership as we work to advance additional efforts to create safe and secure public spaces.
“Voting is a fundamental right and citizens should be able to exercise the franchise safely. Further confirmed by the armed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, we cannot allow firearms to be used as armed intimidation or in response to political disagreements.”
Protecting the U.S. democratic process by banning firearms at the polls is a major legislative priority for CSGV. A fall 2020 report released by CSGV and Guns Down America – Guns Down At The Polls: How States Can and Should Limit Firearms at Polling Places – explores numerous examples of gun-based intimidation occurring at polling places in swing states in 2016 and 2018, highlighting the need for stronger laws to protect and keep voters safe at the voting booth. The report also identifies tools available to help state and local officials, particularly in Virginia, keep voters safe and prevent armed intimidation at the polls, even in states without laws explicitly banning firearms at polling places. Up until this point, Virginia has had no state laws on the books banning guns specifically at polls.
About the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
Founded in 1974, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is the nation’s oldest gun violence prevention organization. We believe gun violence should be rare and abnormal. CSGV develops and advocates for evidence-based solutions to reduce gun injury and death in all its forms.
View Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s 2021 Virginia Bill tracker to view updates on all bills the organization is monitoring during the January legislative session.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2021
Alyson Malinger, West End Strategy Team