• Thomas Parker

Virginia lawmakers advance gun ban

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

Lawmakers in Virginia advanced a bill from committee to be considered by the full House of Delegates that would prohibit the possession, sale, purchase, and restrict transfer of semi-automatic rifles and pistols.

Measure HB 961 defines "assault weapons" as semi-automatic rifles and pistols and "high capacity magazines" as having more than 12 rounds. The bill would also ban folding stocks, secondary handgrips, flash suppressors, silencers, and other types of firearm modifications.

Should the bill pass, any Virginian who possesses, sells, purchases, or attempts to transfer a firearm that falls under the law's new definitions for "assault weapons" could face up to 12 months in fail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. Citizens would have until the end of 2020 to surrender magazines of more than 12 rounds.

In November of last year, Democrats gained control of both chambers of the Virginia legislature and Democrat Governor Ralph Northam remained in office despite the emergence of a controversial photo of him in a 1984 medical school yearbook which showed him in either in a Ku Klux Klan robe or in blackface--Northam couldn't remember which.

"Virginians are demanding real action to combat gun violence. Today, legislators proved they are listening," Northam said.

The bill passed Virginia's public safety committee on a party-line vote.

"We strongly oppose this bill. This bill would not make Virginians safer. What this bill does is make law-abiding Virginians felons overnight," D.J. Spiker, the National Rifle Association's state legislative director, said at a hearing.

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