Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; composite by A1F staff.
The Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-5 on February 17 against a bill that would have banned some of the most commonly owned rifles in the state (and throughout the country).
HB 961 sought to ban popular semi-automatic rifles—a firearm type that is often improperly labeled with the purely political term “assault weapon.” If passed, the legislation would have also imposed a licensing requirement for those who already lawfully own these rifles; it would have prohibited the use of magazines that hold more than 12 rounds; and it would have also effectively banned suppressors in the state. If implemented, it would have mandated felony penalties for noncompliance.
A spokesperson for the governor said in a statement to NPR that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was “disappointed” by the vote. “We will be back next year,” she said.
Northam, who made no secret of his anti-gun agenda after last November’s election results, championed the legislation to ban AR-15-type rifles. He later said he would “compromise” by turning the state’s residents’ rights into something treated more as a legal privilege; basically, by using the guise of calling it a “grandfather clause,” he proposed allowing those already in possession of AR-15-type rifles to keep them, but only if they are registered with the state.
“While the House Public Safety Committee amended the bill to allow citizens to keep currently owned firearms and suppressors, there was no option for citizens to keep their lawfully acquired magazines with capacities greater than  rounds, forcing millions of Virginians to dispose of their property, become a criminal, or surrender them to the government,” reported the NRA Institute for Legislative Action.
HB 961 was just another of Northam’s attempts to restrict, and ultimately ban, Second Amendment rights. A similar bill, SB 16, was defeated earlier in this year’s legislative session.