A Virginia Senate committee voted today to delay a bill that would have banned any new sales of AR-type semi-automatic rifles, magazines capable of holding more than 12 rounds, and suppressors.
Four Democratic Senators joined six Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee to delay passage of the bill until 2021. In the meantime, the bill will be sent to the state crime commission to study the issue and make recommendations, according to local media.
After the 10-5 vote, spectators in the committee room broke into applause, and the Virginia Citizens Defense League President Phil Van Cleave credited Second Amendment advocates with the victory.
“Congratulations, VCDL! Your phone calls, emails, attendance at the Second Amendment Sanctuary hearings, attendance at General Assembly committee hearings, and attendance at Lobby Day has paid off – HB 961, the ‘assault weapon’/higher-capacity magazine/suppressor/bump stock ban, is DEAD for the year!” Van Cleave said in an email to supporters.
The gallery breaks out into cheers and applause in the Virgnia Senate Judiciary Committee as they vote to not move forward with HB961, otherwise known as @GovNortham’s “assault firearms” ban. pic.twitter.com/c6Kxc88f0w— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) February 17, 2020
The National Rifle Association also credited the committee’s decision to the thousands of Virginia gun owners who have supported the Second Amendment sanctuary movement and visited the state capitol to lobby legislators.
“Thanks to Second Amendment supporters around the Commonwealth ceaselessly voicing their opposition to a sweeping gun ban, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-5 to reject House Bill 961 on February 17,” the NRA said on its website. “Bloomberg’s House majority in the General Assembly is not going to deliver their most coveted agenda item to their billionaire master.”
Van Cleave reported that thousands of gun owners packed the capitol building and flooded into the committee room.
Democratic Senators Deeds, Edwards, Petersen, and Surrovell joined Republicans Chafin, McDougle, Norment, Obenshain, Stanley, and Stuart to block the measure for this year.
Van Cleave warned gun owners not to get complacent but sounded a hopeful note moving forward.
“Next year, the battle will continue, but if we fight like we did this year, vote in every election, and support pro-gun candidates, we will continue to be a force to be reckoned with,” he said. “We dare not get complacent again.”
The move comes as a significant setback for Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam. Gov. Northam has pushed the legislature to institute an “assault weapons” ban for years, and Northam had hoped a version of the bill that included a grandfather clause could get through the Democrat-controlled Senate.
The Senate is still considering a red flag law, a universal background check bill, and a bill that would allow local governments to impose their own gun control laws. All are expected to pass.