Last week, New York law enforcement officials uncovered a gun-trafficking ring operating out of Virginia where 217 firearms were bought in Virginia and sold on the streets in New York.
Twenty-four people, including 22 from Virginia, were charged in the 627-count indictment.
The criminals arrested in this sting were part of a conspiracy to violate existing laws on the books including a felon purchasing a firearm, felons possessing a firearm, the purchase of a firearm in a straw purchase where the purchaser has the intent to transfer a firearm to a person they know cannot legally purchase or possess a firearm, and interstate transport of illegal fire arms.
In this situation, the laws worked the way they were intended to work. The criminals were caught violating existing laws on the books and additional laws would not have prevented them from committing crimes. Democrats want to make this about guns. But this is not about guns, this is about people. This is about getting our law enforcement officers the resources they need. This is about keeping criminals off our streets. We are researching the backgrounds of each criminal arrested to determine if any had their rights restored by Governor McAuliffe.
Virginia has a zero-tolerance policy on gun violence. Virginia has some of the strongest laws in the country when it comes to gun crimes. We simply do not tolerate gun violence or gun crimes.
It’s a Class 6 felony to use a firearm to commit a felony. You can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for committing sexual battery with a firearm. Committing a burglary with a firearm carries a minimum 20 year sentence. It’s a Class 4 felony to commit a straw purchase.
Since straw purchasers were used by the felons to acquire these guns, no background check system, including universal background checks, could have stopped them since the straw purchaser would have been listed as a legal purchaser at the time of the purchase.
The best way to combat gun violence is to (a) enforce our existing laws, (b) stand against efforts to weaken criminal sentences and bring back parole, (c) protect the rights of law-abiding citizens who just want to protect themselves, and (d) strengthen and reform our mental health care system.
In the district last week I traveled quite a bit. The Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance’s annual “Pancakes and Politics” was held at Liberty University. Senator Newman and Senator Peake helped update local businesses and attendees on the happenings of the 2017 General Assembly session. Other Central Virginia legislators, Delegate Byron, Delegate Cline and Delegate Garrett attended as well and gave an update on COPN and the budget. That evening I attended the Appomattox Republican Committee meeting along with Senator Mark Peake giving an update to the 2017 session and taking questions from constituents.
Over the weekend I attended a fundraiser for the Holiday Lake 4-H Education Center and the Central Virginia Friends of the NRA Banquet. At each event I had plenty of conversations with constituents on the 2017 session and matters that were important to each of them.
In an effort to keep my constituents informed of any operations that will temporarily impact public use of facilities, I wanted to share the following.
The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will be lowering the water level at Lake Horsepen Dam near the Buckingham County Courthouse in Buckingham County to support renovations to the dam and spillway required by the State Dam Safety Act. The lake level will be lowered approximately five feet beginning in mid to late March 2017 and will remain lowered until the construction is complete in approximately five months. While fishing will not be restricted, the drawdown will render the boat landing unusable and parking area and boat ramp will be closed during the construction period. DGIF is in the process of placing construction notices of the on the Agency’s web site, www.dgif.virginia.gov, and at the site.
It is a privilege to represent you in the Virginia House of Delegates. I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office. I will be spending the coming weeks meeting and visiting with various groups, businesses and constituents giving updates on the 2017 session. You can email me at DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov or call me at (804)698-1059. You can also join the conversation on our social media page www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss.