VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - While the senate continues to debate gun control, legislation passed right here in Virginia is aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence, and it's one of the toughest laws of its kind in the nation.
The Virginia Secretary of Public Safety, Brian Moran, held a press conference on Tuesday to outline those provisions.
Statistics show that when firearms are present in domestic violence situations, murder is five times more likely.
In 2014, 66 people were killed in Virginia with a firearm in what's called a ‘family and intimate partner homicide.’
Over 5,000 victims filed for a Family Abuse Final Protective Order last year, but only one-third of U.S. states explicitly prohibit possession of a firearm during protective orders.
Tough provisions in the Family Abuse Final Protective Order are designed to change that.
“It`s more common that people realize,” said Haley Raimondi, supervisor of crisis services at Samaritan House, a domestic violence shelter in Virginia Beach.
“I think we probably have higher statistics because of the military presence. I have a pretty large number of individuals, of victims, who are concerned about gun safety,” Raimondi told News 3.
Three components of the law go into effect next month. First, it prohibits individuals under protective orders from family abuse from possessing a firearm.
Once the protective order is served, those individuals have 24-hours to sell or transfer their firearm.
If those served a Family Abuse Final Protective Order are found to have a firearm after that 24-hour period, they can be charged with a class-six felony, resulting in up to five years in prison, plus fines.
“The most dangerous time for a victim is when they actually choose to leave their abuser,” said Raimondi. “If a gun is available, it`s that much more lethal.”
The new law only applies to permanent protective orders, which can last up to 2 years.
While many anti domestic violence groups are excited about the new law, those who talked to News 3 said they are concerned about how judges and law enforcement are going to implement it.
The new law goes into effect July 1st.