Virginia lawmakers REJECT Governor Northam’s bid to BAN assault weapons
- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam lost his battle to ban the sale of assault weapons Monday after several Democrats joined Republican senators in voting to shelve the bill for the year
- The legislation would have banned the sale of some semiautomatic firearms, including AR-15-style rifles
- The bill also banned the possession of magazines that hold over 12 rounds
- The Senate Judiciary Committee members, who voted against the bill, included four Democrats, most moderates
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam lost his battle to ban the sale of assault weapons on Monday after several Democrats join Republican senators in a vote to shelve the bill for the year
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam lost his battle to ban the sale of assault weapons on Monday after lawmakers, including several Democrats, on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to shelve the bill for the year.
Four Democrats, most moderates, joined their Republican counterparts in rejecting the legislation, which would have banned the sale of some semiautomatic firearms, including AR-15-style rifles.
It would also have banned the possession of magazines that can hold over 12 rounds.
The Democrats included Virginia Senators R. Creigh Deeds, John S. Edwards, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chap Petersen and Scott A. Surovell.
The committee vote drew praise from gun advocates, but is a big blow to Gov. Northam, who was fighting for a number of gun control measures.
Pictured here are Virginia Democratic Senators John Edwards, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee (left) and R. Creigh Deeds, two of the senators who voted to shelve the bill
Gun rights advocates celebrate outside the Senate committee meeting after learning the bill has been tabled
A spokesperson for the governor said he’s disappointed by the outcome, but plans to continue the fight next year.
Gun control was a key issue for Democrats during last year’s legislative elections when they gained control of the General Assembly for the first time in over two decades.
The issue continues to draw heated debate in the state, with gun owners, especially in rural communities making their voices heard.
Last month tens of thousands of gun-rights activists–some in tactical gear–from around the country descended on the Capitol in Richmond and the surrounding area to protest.
More than 100 counties, cities and towns have also declared themselves as Second Amendment sanctuaries, promising to oppose any ‘unconstitutional restrictions’ on guns.
Gun rights advocates protest outside the Capitol in Richmond, Virginia
Protester holds a sign at a January 20 rally organized by the Virginia Citizens Defense League
A protester holds a sign at the January 20 rally calling Virginia’s governor a tyrant
In Virginia gun owners argued the governor was trying to seize commonly-owned guns and accessories from law abiding citizens.
The governor said that wasn’t the purpose of the bill and that banning the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines would help prevent mass murders.
While earlier proposals to ban the possession of assault riles or require owners to register have failed, the governor was hoping this bill would win enough Democratic votes to pass.
However moderate Democrats in Virginia’s Senate said they were uncomfortable with the legislation.
Lawmakers said it wasn’t clear what types of guns would constitute an assault weapon.
Senators have now asked the state crime commission to study the issue.
While this bill was tabled, lawmakers in the House and Senate have advanced other measures that are expected to be passed in the coming days, including bills that would require universal background checks on gun purchases and enable localities to ban guns in public buildings, parks and other areas.
Other bills would limit handgun purchases to once a month and allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from anyone deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.