ROANOKE, Va. – Starting Thursday, at least five new gun control laws take effect in the Commonwealth.
After her daughter was shot twice at the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, gun violence prevention advocate Lori Haas said the slew of policy changes are needed.
Haas also serves as the senior director of advocacy and the Virginia director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
“I know the pain of gun violence touching our family and there are too many families in the Commonwealth who go through this day in and day out,” she said.
Starting Thursday, guns are now banned from most state buildings, including the Virginia Capitol and grounds.
People will also not be allowed to have a firearm within 40 feet of a polling location or an election board while results are being counted.
School boards will also now have the right to ban guns in their own buildings.
A new law also prohibits people convicted of domestic offenses against their partners to have a firearm.
It’s a law Haas agrees with but said it neglects other domestic violence cases that include children and siblings.
“I think it needs to be expanded absolutely to cover more domestic violence situations,” she said.
Virginia State Police will also have five days, rather than three, to complete a background check before a gun can be sold or transferred to someone.
Overall, Haas calls these laws a win, but she said don’t expect to see change overnight.
“Laws are good but it’s only a piece of the puzzle. We know that we need good policy, resources and a commitment to those communities that are disproportionately affected by gun violence. And Roanoke is one of them.”
Haas said communities need more resources and funding to truly combat gun violence and points out Roanoke’s effort by submitting a grant for an intervention program.
According to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, Roanoke City experienced 10 or more homicides per calendar year during two or more of the three years prior to the grant application. Additionally, the city had a homicide rate that was at least 50% higher than the statewide homicide rate during two or more of the three calendar years immediately preceding the grant application.