State Watch

Bill to ban sale of assault-style weapons dies in Va. state Senate committee

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An assault weapons ban, one of several Virginia bills that prompted armed protests at the state Capitol earlier this year, died in committee Monday despite the backing of Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and the legislature’s Democratic majority.

Three Democrats, state Sens. Creigh Deeds, Chap Petersen and John Edwards, joined Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the bill, sending it back to the state’s Crime Commission in a 10-5 vote, The Washington Post reported. Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D) audibly referred to the three as a “bunch of wimps” from the dais.

The bill would have prohibited the sale or transfer of such weapons as of July 1, a compromise from an earlier version that would also have banned possession of them, as well as possession of high-capacity magazines as of Jan. 1, 2021. Critics claimed the measure was not clear enough on how it defined assault weapons.

“While we are disappointed in today’s vote, we are undeterred. Assault-style weapons, large-capacity magazines, and other accessories designed to heighten the lethality of firearms have no place in our communities. They are uniquely lethal and make our Commonwealth less safe for families and law enforcement. We understand that these are complicated conversations,” Brady Campaign President Kris Brown said in a statement Monday.

“We are grateful to the experts, advocates, and activists who met in good faith to discuss these policies — from both sides of the debate. We are grateful to the members of the Virginia House of Delegates, who took up this bill, took the courageous step to let it stand for itself, and voted on it,” Brown added.

More than 100 municipalities in Virginia have declared themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries” amid the Democratic majority’s push for new gun control measures, with some local officials vowing not to enforce certain gun laws.

Seven other Northam-backed gun control measures have already passed Virginia’s House of Delegates, including bills requiring universal background checks for private gun sales and mandating that the owner of a stolen or lost firearm report it within 24 hours.

Other measures passed by the House include one authorizing local governments to ban weapons from public buildings and certain events, restoring a limit on handgun purchases of one per month and creating a “red flag” law allowing authorities to temporarily seize the weapons of someone assessed to be a threat to themselves or others, the Post reported.

—Updated at 3:55 p.m.

Tags assault-style weapons Gun control State laws Virginia

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