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Assault weapons ban advances in Virginia legislature amid fierce opposition

Assault weapons ban advances in Virginia legislature amid fierce opposition
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A Virginia state House committee on Friday passed a bill that would ban the sale of certain semi-automatic firearms, including the popular AR-15 style rifles.

H.B. 961 would also ban silencers and magazines that hold more than 12 rounds. It was passed out of the House Public Safety Committee by a vote of 12-9.

The bill, which has the support of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), will now make its way to the floor of the state's Democratic-controlled House of Delegates.

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Pro-gun residents of the state packed the committee room for the vote, and when the measure passed, the crowd erupted into protest, an ABC affiliate reported. People became so agitated that law enforcement was forced to disperse the crowd.

After the vote passed, National Rifle Association (NRA) spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen described the bill as an "egregious gun ban" that will "make millions of law-abiding Virginians felons overnight."

Earlier this year, the Virginia House of Delegates passed seven other Democratic gun reform laws.

The bills include regulations implementing universal background checks and “red flag” legislation allowing officials to take guns from those determined to be dangerous to themselves or others.