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COLUMN – It was a bad session for the Second Amendment

The 2021 General Assembly session concluded its work March 1, and as promised last week, I wanted to continue to tell you about some of the bills that passed and failed this year that may have an effect on your lives.

SOCIAL ISSUES

As we expected, this was a tough year for pro-life Virginians. Democrats voted to lift the ban on abortion coverage in insurance plans. While coverage is optional, I’m afraid that the removal of this ban will lead some companies to cover the practice. That will make for hard choices for those of us who don’t want our money being used to take innocent life.

Democrats also blocked a pro-life measure Republicans have always fought to include in the budget — a provision that blocks the use of state money for abortion for anything other than that required by federal law. Virginians should be able to pay taxes with a clear conscience, and the removal of this safeguard makes that much more difficult. Rest assured, I will continue to fight to restore this protection.

One bright spot was our successful defense of the “Conscience Clause” for child placement agencies. This legislation protects religious organizations that work to place children for adoption. Democrats would have repealed this measure, leaving far fewer placement agencies working to find permanent homes for foster children.

This was a significant win for communities of faith.

SECOND AMENDMENT

This was not a great session for the Second Amendment, but it could have been far worse. Democrats enacted a number of new restrictions on firearms including a ban on firearms in state buildings and on Capitol Square. They also voted to ban firearms at polling places. I would note that none of these have been a problem for law enforcement, and my office has yet to hear the first complaint about them.

They also enacted legislation that would give the Virginia State Police longer to deny a sale if a background check takes longer than five days. The new law would stretch that out to seven days.

But it wasn’t all bad news. We were able to kill legislation that would criminalize the popular hobby of manufacturing firearms at home. Under the bill, 3D-printed pistol lowers and home-machined metal 80% lowers would be illegal to buy, sell or assemble into a firearm.

Fortunately for us, Democrats spent so much time fighting with each other that Senate members killed the legislation out of spite toward their House counterparts. It’s not pretty, but a Second Amendment win is a win.

ELECTION SECURITY

Republicans like myself also heard your concerns about elections loud and clear. The unusual way results were reported in 2020, combined with last minute changes in the rules by Democrats, made it easy for people to question the results.

Republicans introduced a number of bills to help restore faith in the system, including changing the way absentee ballots are reported. In 2020, more than half of voters in some areas cast their ballots early or via mail. Those ballots are counted last and reported in one group — making it look like a massive last minute influx of Democratic voters were found.

Our legislation would have counted these ballots just like other votes, in their home precincts. That would end the “mirage” effect late on election night.

Del. Tommy Wright can be reached via email at DelTWright@house.virginia.gov or (804) 698-1061.