By: Joseph Warta
Lame-duck Democrat Gov. of Virginia Ralph Northam recently released his proposed budget for the state. Included in his budget is a requested $27.4 million for a “Center for Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention” at the commonwealth’s Department of Criminal Justice Services.
In his press release, Northam addressed the issue of growing violent crime in Virginia:
“We lose a thousand Virginians to gun violence each year, and we must do everything we can to bring that number to zero… The new research Center will collect important data that can lead to meaningful change. Gun violence is a public safety and a public health issue, and we have so much work to do to end this epidemic of violence. The data will save lives.”
Later in the statement, he said the center he hopes to fund will focus on addressing “violence caused by firearms.” Of course, the wording of this very statement indicates that Northam believes guns are to blame for the surge in violent crime, not violent criminals.
The center would be committed to tracking and sharing data on violent crimes involving firearms in Virginia. It would publish reports and share findings with governmental agencies across the commonwealth, including hospitals, colleges, law enforcement, and more. It would share this information, not just in reports, but also through training and conferences. It would also include drafting new standards and policies for how law enforcement operates.
This falls in line with Northam’s previous actions on firearm policy, which have included expanding background checks, prohibiting certain people from being able to obtain firearms, prohibiting firearms at polling places, reinstating Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month policy, and more.
Northam will be leaving office in January. He is term-limited and will be replaced by Republican Glenn Youngkin. In addition, when the General Assembly meets again in January, it will be doing so with a new Republican majority in the House of Delegates as well. (The Senate remained Democrat.)