Virginia lawmakers take first step in advancing stringent gun control measure

Virginia’s war on the Second Amendment is proceeding apace.

A bill to ban AR-15s, suppressors, and high-capacity magazines made its way through a Virginia state House committee Friday, according to media reports. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has vowed to implement an ambitious gun control program over the objections of angry and concerned gun owners.

“This gun ban will make millions of law-abiding Virginians felons overnight while doing nothing to decrease crime,” NRA spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen warned. “That’s why a majority of Virginians oppose it.”

Measure moves forward

Although the bill may face resistance in the state Senate, it marks the first real step to ban assault weapons outright since Virginia Democrats took back the state legislature. Northam’s plans have stirred up Second Amendment supporters in the state, which has become the focal point of the battle for gun rights nationwide.

Gun rights advocates who gathered in the House Public Safety Committee room Friday were escorted out by police, according to the Washington Examiner. The committee passed H.B. 961, which targets semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15, as well as accessories like suppressors and magazines larger than 12 rounds, in a party-line vote, 12-9, The Hill reported.

Gun rights supporters fear that the bill, and others like it, would transform law-abiding gun owners who use AR-15s and common attachments into felons. AR-15s are extremely popular sporting rifles, but the gun control lobby has worked to designate them “weapons of war” that no citizen has a right to own. 

“Assault weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment because they are weapons of war,” Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran said.

Bill’s fate remains unclear

Having cleared the committee, the bill will head to the full floor and then to the state Senate. But an assault weapons ban has struggled to make it through the state legislature in the past, and the new bill may face some pushback from Democrats like Virginia state Sen. Lynwood Lewis (D), who have said that they’re opposed to blanket gun bans, Breitbart reported.

Under pressure, state Dems made some minor concessions. An updated version of the bill would allow those who currently own AR-15s to keep them but would ban the sale of “assault weapons” after January 2021.

“This is the bill that will make millions of Virginians felons overnight. Possession of a magazine over 12 rounds,” said NRA spokesperson DJ Spiker, who was at the committee meeting.

Sweeping gun control agenda

With the help of billionaire gun control supporter former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Virginia Democrats took back control of both houses of the state legislature in November. Virginia Democrats have already passed a slate of gun control measures that instate “universal background checks,” so-called “red flag laws,” and a ban on purchasing more than one handgun a month.

Gun rights supporters have agitated to create gun rights sanctuaries throughout the state, with more than 100 counties and local municipalities having now received that designation. A massive Second Amendment rally took place in Richmond last month without violent incident, despite the frenzied anticipation of such from the mainstream media.

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