Virginia Advances ‘Gangbanger Bill of Rights’ To Withhold Gun Crime Evidence From Federal Government

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"Virginia Advances ‘Gangbanger Bill of Rights’ To Withhold Gun Crime Evidence From Federal Government"

Virginia Del. Bob Marshall (R)

A Virginia House of Delegates committee endorsed a controversial bill Friday that would prevent any state or local government entity from providing information about gun crimes based on any federal law enacted after 2012. If enacted, the bill could prevent local police from sharing records with the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

The bill, authored by arch-conservative Delegate Bob Marshall (R-VA), aims to:

Prevent any agency, political subdivision, or employee of Virginia from assisting the Federal government of the United States in any investigation, prosecution, detention, arrest, search, or seizure, under the authority of any federal statute enacted, or Executive Order or regulation issued, after December 31, 2012, infringing the individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms by imposing new restrictions on private ownership or private transfer of firearms, firearm magazines, ammunition, or components thereof.

On a party-lines 15-7 vote Friday, the Republican majority on the Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety sent the bill to the full House.

Virginia blogger Ben Tribbett called the bill a “Gangbanger Bill of Rights,” noting that it could impede an FBI investigation of evidence found at a crime scene that involved a gun clip or assault weapon banned in future legislation and could prevent Virginia police from testifying in federal court cases.

The bill has the strong support of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which notes that the bill “bill prohibits state agencies, local governments, or employees thereof from assisting the federal government in any searches, seizsures [sic] related to firearms, ammunition, or magazines. Also any federal attempt to create a private sale background check requirement will be treated likewise.” The group proudly displays on its website a quote calling it “a gun-rights organization that makes the NRA look moderate.”

Update

Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D), who voted against the bill in committee, told ThinkProgress, he believes the bill is unconstitutional. “Say the federal government was investigating a gun-runner in Virginia,” he observed, “local police would not be allowed to assist the FBI or the ATF with providing addresses, contact information, or phone numbers. It has unintended consequences, is overly broad, and is the wrong direction for Virginia to be going.”


Update

Delegate Patrick Hope (D), who also opposed the bill in committee, told ThinkProgress that if passed, “This bill will turn Virginia into a haven for fugitives of the federal government. If you’re a criminal, you should come to Virginia, because under this law we would ignore any commonsense legislation that comes out of Washington. It will be a danger to public safety. This is not a joke — but it’s something you’d think you’d see in The Onion.


Update

The House of Delegates re-referred the bill to the Appropriations Committee for a fiscal study. The appropriations left it dead for the year.

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