Virginia’s Democratic-controlled legislature on Friday took the first step in their pursuit to ban sporting rifles, large-capacity magazines, and suppressors.
The House Public Safety Committee voted to ban “assault weapons” such as the AR-15 and AK-47. The bill also bans magazines that hold more than 12 rounds, and sound suppressors.
NRA First Vice President Charles Cotton said the Virginia vote is “the biggest wake-up call for the whole country that I’ve ever seen.”
NRA spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen 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 legislation is expected to win passage in the full House of Delegates but its fate is less certain in the Senate, where a handful of Democrats do not support it, reports say. A similar bill in the Senate was previously withdrawn.
If it passes the Senate and is signed by Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam, a gun control proponent, the law would take effect on July 1.
“Wake up Virginia! This is a near total gun ban with mandatory government registration of any of the guns you own,” VA Gun Facts tweeted.
Second Amendment advocates jammed the hearing room in Richmond on Friday, but Democrats reportedly had them removed by Capitol Police.
Republican Del. Amanda Batten tweeted: “In the House Public Safety Committee meeting, where the “assault weapon” ban just passed. When the crowd voiced disapproval, the Chairman ordered Capitol Police to remove every person from the room. We are now hearing our final bill in an empty room with no public input.”
The Virginia ban's sponsor, Democratic Del. Mark Levine, “has been criticized for being ignorant on guns and how they work, claiming the difference between hunting and sporting guns is how ‘you hold them,’ " Washington Examiner columnist Paul Bedard noted.
Phil Van Cleave, who runs the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), 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 the legislation if it clears the Senate and is signed by Northam.
The NRA’s Mortensen added: “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.”
Bloomberg, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and his anti-gun groups funded several Virginia Democrats who won their elections last year and helped to give the party control of the legislature.