Bowser said that, according to statistics from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, about 41 percent of guns recovered from crimes in the District in 2018 have been traced to Virginia. In 2018, law enforcement agencies recovered a total of 2,095 guns, and ATF traced 599 that were purchased in Virginia, according to ATF statistics the mayor cited in her letter.
“As a neighboring jurisdiction, Washington, DC is directly impacted by Virginia gun control,” Bowser wrote in the letter she sent at the launch of Virginia’s 2020 legislative session. “. . . I am concerned that the traffic in guns across the District’s borders continues to devastate our communities.”
Law enforcement officials throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Interstate 95 corridor, especially in New York City, have long cited Virginia as a source state for firearms used in illegal activity in their jurisdictions.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has promised to deliver gun-control measures as Democrats consolidated power in both chambers, which has fueled fears and action from gun rights activists and gun owners across the state and nationwide.
Several counties declared themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries,” and national gun rights advocates are organizing armed protests to demonstrate in Richmond later this month.
Bowser sent a similar letter to Northam in the summer, when the governor convened a special session of the legislature July 9 in response to a mass shooting in Virginia Beach that left 12 dead in May. But the session ended abruptly, without debate of any bill, as Republican leaders adjourned after 90 minutes.
In both instances, Bowser pushed for what she called “common-sense steps” by Virginia to hinder straw purchases and gun trafficking by introducing stronger licensing requirements and increasing inspections for gun dealers. She also asked that the state require background checks for all sales at gun shows.
In addition, Bowser seeks requirements by gun owners to report lost or stolen guns and to enhance state penalties for those convicted of possessing, receiving or selling illegal guns.
“Americans are looking for bold action to stop the gun violence plaguing our nation, and I congratulate you again on being in a position to take just such action during the 2020 Virginia General Assembly Session,” Bowser said. “I have faith that you will succeed.”