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How Virginia's governor candidates want to address gun violence

Following recent shootings in Hampton Roads, 13News Now reached out to see how Virginia's gubernatorial candidates want to address the issue.

NORFOLK, Va. — Author's note: The video above is on file from Oct. 6, 2021.

With a significant number of shootings in Hampton Roads recently -- several involving young people -- the issue of gun violence is top of mind for many voters.

Last month, a 15-year-old student at Heritage High School in Newport News allegedly shot two people while school was in session. That was followed by multiple school threats across the area. Since the beginning of October, six juveniles in Portsmouth have been injured in shootings.

These are just a few examples of recent gun violence. For people planning to vote in the upcoming elections, the candidates vying to succeed current Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam have different approaches to tackling gun violence in the Commonwealth.

13News Now reached out to the campaigns of former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee, and Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin to see how they want to address gun violence. If elected, here's what they want to do:

McAuliffe wants stronger gun regulations, more programs

On his campaign's website, McAuliffe said he wants stronger gun regulations and programs to address gun violence as a "public health epidemic." 

He expressed support for gun safety laws passed in 2020 under Northam and the Democratic-controlled legislature, including background checks on gun sales and allowing localities to regulate firearms.

His gun regulation plan includes banning assault firearms and high-capacity magazines and strengthening background checks. He also wants to prohibit those who commit hate crimes from being able to buy, possess or transport a firearm, and ban "ghost guns," which are those that can be assembled with parts.

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He also detailed a plan to create a Virginia Office of Gun Violence Prevention, which he said would collaborate with state agencies and localities, and expand violence intervention and prevention programs.

In a statement to 13News Now, McAuliffe campaign spokesperson Renzo Olivari slammed Youngkin's plan to address gun violence.

"Glenn Youngkin would put Virginians’ safety at risk by putting more dangerous guns on the streets and his economic plan would defund law enforcement," Olivari said.

Youngkin leans on law enforcement

Youngkin campaign spokesperson Macaulay Porter told 13News Now that Youngkin's plan includes prioritizing public safety, supporting law enforcement and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.

On his campaign's website, Youngkin's plan includes protecting qualified immunity for law enforcement, firing the Virginia Parole Board and implementing crime reduction programs based on Project Exile and Operation Ceasefire.

In a statement, Porter slammed McAuliffe's record on crime while he was previously the governor.

"When Terry McAuliffe was governor, Virginia's murder rate increased 43%, the rape rate increased every single year, his corrupt parole board released violent criminals and killers, and he made it easier for felons to get guns," Porter said.

RELATED: Newport News school administration discusses security improvements

She later added, "Terry McAuliffe will only bring more chaos by attacking the police and giving every violent criminal access to parole.”

Over the summer, Youngkin touted endorsements from people who work in law enforcement.

Back in June, Youngkin's campaign announced it landed the endorsement of the Virginia Police Benevolent Association, a group representing law enforcement personnel.

Then on Aug. 16, Youngkin's campaign announced endorsements from 50 city and county sheriffs across Virginia. It included Virginia Beach City Sheriff Kenneth Stolle, Isle of Wight County Sheriff James Clarke and Gloucester County Sheriff Darrell Warren.

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