Virginia: Northam Launches Attack On Gun Owners

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posted on February 19, 2019
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“Any firearm equipped with a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition.”

Revised definition of “assault weapon” in Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s propsed ban.

Virginia’s new governor is kicking off the new year with an extensive package of anti-gun schemes that will mainly focus on law-abiding gun owners while ignoring criminals.

Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposals, which he calls “reasonable gun violence reforms,” constitute a veritable wish list for gun-ban advocates everywhere. They include so-called “universal” background checks, extreme risk protective orders, reinstatement of a one-handgun-a-month law, a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” a mandatory storage law and a law requiring law-abiding owners to report lost or stolen firearms.

In his announcement, Northam said the “assault weapon” ban “modifies the definition of assault firearm to any firearm that is equipped with a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition.” Of course, anyone familiar with firearms knows that this takes in a lot of guns not normally considered “assault weapons” even by gun haters, including many .22 rimfire rifles and many common pistols used by law-abiding Virginians for self-defense.

NRA opposes expanding firearm background check systems because background checks don’t stop criminals from getting firearms, because some proposals to do so would deprive individuals of due process of law and because the Association opposes firearm registration­—the near universal follow up when background checks fail to have an impact on criminals obtaining firearms. Federal studies have repeatedly found that persons imprisoned for firearm crimes get their firearms mostly through theft, the black market, family members or friends. Less than 1 percent obtain guns at gun shows.

Just before press time for this issue, a Virginia House subcommittee voted down more than a dozen anti-gun measures. But with Gov. Northam’s zeal for gun control, it’s doubtful this is the last we’ll see of these proposals.

So-called one-gun-a-month laws impose a 30-day waiting period between single handgun purchases. Supporters of such laws claim that they are needed to prevent criminals in states with less restrictive gun laws from buying large quantities of handguns for illegal resale in high-crime cities like Washington, D.C. When Virginia embraced this scheme in 1993, homicide declined more in 12 other states than it did in D.C. Nearly two decades later in 2012, Virginia lawmakers rescinded the failed law, which had not proven effective.

As for extreme risk protective orders, the right to bear arms should not be treated as a second-class right and should be restricted only upon conviction of a felony, like other constitutional rights. Further, if an individual is truly dangerous, existing law already provides a variety of mechanisms to deal with the individual, all of which can lead to firearm prohibitions in appropriate cases. So-called “red-flag” laws like the one proposed by Northam would likely infringe on a law-abiding Virginian’s Second Amendment rights based on third-party allegations and little evidence.

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