VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — All but three members of Virginia Beach’s city council voted Tuesday evening to send a new policy initiative regarding gun owners to the Virginia General Assembly.
The proposed change requires a gun owner to report a lost or stolen firearm with 48 hours of discovering it’s missing. If they don’t, they could face a civil penalty.
The General Assembly will now consider city council’s initiative, as well as 25 other items, during their 2015 session.
Multiple gun rights activists showed up at Tuesday’s regularly-scheduled meeting to voice their opposition to the initiative.
“Why should the city, the chief of police, and the state say to us, ‘Gun owners, we’re going to make you the bad guy, if you don’t tell us that your gun got stolen,'” one resident said.
Councilman Jim Wood sponsored the initiative, saying it will keep the guns out of the hands of criminals. He added, the potential change is about personal responsibility.
“It’s just encouraging people to do the right thing,” Wood said.
Councilman Bob Dyer is one of the members who said no to the idea.
“I really do believe that responsible gun owners do report things stolen because they want to get their valuable antiques or property back,” Dyer said.
Some gun owners did support a penalty: “Maybe sanctions are in order for not knowing that stolen guns are a problem,” one gun owner said.
Lev Huntington, who openly carried his gun on his belt into the meeting, worries about more than a penalty.
“They’re requiring us to report something, and the only reason I expect they’re asking us to report it is so they know and wind up with a record of gun ownership by serial number,” he said.
Wood, who is a gun owner and a former police officer, said collecting serial numbers is not the case.
“I’m not trying to get people to register their firearms, or give up their firearms, or anything like that,” Wood said. “It’s all strictly about personal responsibility. Frankly, I don’t know why anyone would not want to report a firearm that’s stolen.”