We reported Tuesday that House Democrats in Virginia voted to kill a bill by Sen. Chap Petersen as punishment after the Democrat from the D.C. suburbs voted to pass by Gov. Ralph Northam’s gun ban. Also on Tuesday, Petersen went on Fox News to explain why he voted against the bill, which probably annoyed anti-gun Democrats almost as much as the vote itself.
According to Petersen, the first problem was that the categories of weapons and component parts that were impacted were too broad.
Secondly, he said that the retroactive portion of the bill was unfair.
“In other words, if you went out and legally purchased a weapon or legally purchased a particular part, just simply by owning that you could become a class VI felon or class I misdemeanant. And that, to me, it’s not fair, it’s not due process, and that was what really bothered me the most,” he told Hegseth.
While I’m very appreciative of the vote cast by Petersen, it’s worth noting that his problems with the bill could have been presumably solved by narrowing the definition of an “assault weapon” and by grandfathering in firearm magazines. Don’t be surprised if the gun ban introduced by Virginia Democrats in 2021 do both of those things.
As I’ve explained before, grandfather clauses still turn a right into a privilege by denying anyone other than the existing owners of such arms the ability to lawfully possess them. There are plenty of people living in Virginia right now who don’t own an AR-15, but may choose to do so in the future. There are owners of AR-15’s who may choose to move to Virginia, who would not be allowed to do so even with a grandfather clause. Petersen’s concerns with the bill were largely technical, not philosophical, or at least not that he’s willing to state publicly.
Having said that, Petersen has worked to make several bills slightly less awful, and even though I disagree with how he’s ultimately voted on many issues, he’s also helped beat a few bad bills, including HB961. He also comes across as someone that you can talk to, even if you disagree, and Petersen says he talked to many gun owners during the fight over HB961.
Democratic Sen. L. Louise Lucas audibly referred to the defectors as a “bump of wimps” from the dais, according to The Washington Post.
However, Petersen said that listening to his constituents and pro-Second Amendment activists were very “helpful” and mattered to his decision-making process.
“I probably would have voted the same way anyhow, but it was important to hear from people,” he concluded.
If you’re a Virginia gun owner, reach out to Sen. Petersen and thank him for his vote on HB961, as well as the other Democrat senators who voted to send the bill off to be studied, rather than enacted into law. John Edwards, Creigh Deeds, and Scott Surovell were the other committee members who joined Republicans in defeating the measure, and even though they too have largely voted for most of the other gun control bills, it’s good to let them know you appreciate their vote, while also encouraging them to take a second look at the red flag bill, legislation to undo firearms preemption, gun rationing, and other gun control bills that will soon be coming before them.