The Virginia House of Delegates voted on Tuesday to ban so-called “assault weapons” and limit the round capacity of gun magazines.
House Bill 961 prohibits “any person from importing, selling, transferring, manufacturing, purchasing, possessing, or transporting an assault firearm” in the state of Virginia.
Violation of the law would be a Class 6 felony, carrying a penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
HB 961 passed the House of Delegates in a 51 – 48 vote, with all Republican lawmakers opposing it and nearly all Democrats voting for the measure.
The legislation offers detailed definitions of the different types of semi-automatic guns that would be classified as “assault firearms.”
The bill also makes it a felony to have magazines that hold more than 12 rounds.
“HB 961 would make tens of thousands of gun owners in Virginia criminals overnight,” Republican Del. Nick Freitas told the Washington Examiner.
“This bill creates an environment where you could receive up to 12 months in jail for every magazine you have over 12 rounds,” he added. “At the same time that Democrats are voting for early release programs for people convicted of first-degree murder and rape, they are criminalizing law-abiding gun owners.”
HB 961 will now go to the Virginia Senate where it is expected to pass and be signed into law by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam.
Republican Delegate Dave LaRock tweeted after the vote, “And just like that, Virginia House Democrats vote to make millions of Virginians surrender their property or become criminals.”
And just like that, Virginia House Democrats vote to make millions of Virginians surrender their property or become criminals. If the Senate goes along with this nonsense, the Governor will sign it, and then AG Herring will spend YOUR $$$ to defend this unconstitutional overreach pic.twitter.com/GXSs7JaO9p
— Delegate Dave LaRock (@LaRock4Delegate) February 11, 2020
“If the Senate goes along with this nonsense, the Governor will sign it, and then AG Herring will spend YOUR $$$ to defend this unconstitutional overreach.”
The bill is one of eight that Northam is seeking to push through the newly Democrat-controlled legislature.
Some of the governor’s other proposals have passed both chambers of the legislature.
Those bills include limiting handgun purchases to one per month, universal background checks and a “red flag” law.
The latter would allow “any attorney for the Commonwealth or any law-enforcement officer” to apply for a judge’s order to “prohibit a person who poses a substantial risk of injury to himself or others from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm.”
Differences between the Senate and House of Delegates versions must be ironed out in the weeks ahead before they can go to Northam’s desk to be signed into law.
Last month, President Donald Trump said Democrats in Virginia are “working hard” to take away residents’ Second Amendment rights as a massive anti-gun-control rally took place in the state capital of Richmond.
Northam declared a state of emergency ahead of a Jan. 20 gun rights rally, banning firearms inside a security perimeter around the state Capitol.
Tens of thousands of Second Amendment advocates gathered without incident.
Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League and organizer of the rally, told USA Today what Northam and Democrat legislators propose threatens Virginians’ Second Amendment rights.
“The governor and leadership in the Democratic Party have declared war on law-abiding gun owners, and they’re tired of it,” Van Cleave said. “It’s basically people saying we’re fed up. We’ve had enough.”
“Look, they’ve woken up a base that’s been sleeping. … Purple areas will turn bright red,” Van Cleave predicted. “They’re going to pay for this at the polls.”
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