A Virginia Democrat wants to ban indoor shooting ranges at offices where there are more than 50 employees.
Freshman Del. Dan Helmer is pushing the bill at a time when Democrats, in control of the state house for the first time in a generation, are promising to pass a number of gun control laws.
According to Helmer, his bill is needed to protect Virginia’s millions of office workers.
“There are millions of people who work in office buildings in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense for us to be establishing businesses in those buildings that have people bringing lots of firearms and ammunition.”
Helmer denied to The Associated Press that he was targeting the National Rifle Association’s headquarters, which is located in northern Virginia. But he could not name another shooting range in the state that would be affected by his bill.
The NRA said the legislation would hurt not just its range, but also those belonging to larger sporting goods and gun stores. The group said such ranges are important for gun safety training.
“This is a gun-control bill that will eliminate jobs and destroy small businesses in Virginia,” said NRA spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen.
On its website, the NRA says the indoor shooting range is one of the country’s “premier family friendly indoor shooting facilities.” The wheelchair-accessible range has 15 shooting booths and is open to the general public.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the firearms industry, similarly warned in an interview with the Washington Examiner that Helmer’s bill is “an absolute threat” to small businesses.
Going further, the foundation’s Director Of Public Affairs Mark Oliva also said the the legislation is “unprecedented” in the United States and would create a “backdoor registry of every firearms owner and every firearms user” in the state.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, is backing gun-control bills that include universal background checks on gun sales, a ban on assault-style rifles and “red flag” laws that would allow courts and local law enforcement to remove guns from people deemed a risk to communities.
However, the Democrats’ efforts have inspired a fierce grassroots pro-gun movement across the state. Dozens of counties and towns have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries in recent months.
- An illustrative still image from the 1999 movie “Office Space.”: Screen grab