Despite a continued explosion of “gun sanctuaries” in nearly every corner of Virginia, the new Democratic-controlled legislature on Friday took the first step to ban sporting rifles, large-capacity magazines, and suppressors.
In a 12-9 vote, the House Public Safety Committee voted to ban “assault weapons” such as the popular AR-15 and AK-47, magazines that hold more than 12 rounds, and sound suppressors, effective July 1.
The bill is expected to win passage in the full House of Delegates but faces some difficulty in the Senate, where a handful of Democrats are unsupportive. A similar bill in the Senate was previously withdrawn.
Gun advocates flooded the committee hearing room and were cleared out after the vote when there were some angry reactions.
The legislation was amended so that those who own the banned weapons would not have to give them up or register them, but the ban on big magazines and suppressors would stand.
Phil Van Cleave, who runs the influential Virginia Citizens Defense League, the group that recently sponsored a peaceful gun rally in Richmond that drew 22,000 people, said, “This bill would affect our right to defend ourselves.”
He added that VCDL lawyers were already drawing up a lawsuit for if it clears the Senate and is signed by Gov. Ralph Northam, a gun control advocate.
The @NRA enters 2020 campaign early, Virginia gun ban push the 'biggest wake-up call.’ Industry bigs at @NRA_GAOS see political concerns driving sales. https://t.co/2rm8izYwUn pic.twitter.com/KxuS6LqXfm
— Paul Bedard (@SecretsBedard) February 7, 2020
Catherine Mortensen, the spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, said: “This gun ban will make millions of law-abiding Virginians felons overnight while doing nothing to decrease crime. That’s why a majority of Virginians oppose it. The fact is lawmakers delayed bringing up this bill so they could pander to Mike Bloomberg, their billionaire benefactor who will be in Richmond next week to headline a Democratic fundraiser to further enrich themselves. It is clear that House leaders would rather bow to out-of-state interests than listen to their constituents and fellow lawmakers.”
Next week, Democratic presidential candidate Bloomberg is visiting Virginia. He and his anti-gun groups funded several Democrats who won their elections last year and helped to give the party control of the legislature.
Democrats have wanted a gun ban ever since last year’s mass shooting in Virginia Beach that killed 12.
But gun owners have pushed back, establishing “gun sanctuaries” in 141 counties and cities.