AP Photo/Steve Helber
The editorial board of the Washington Post is reacting to the legislative demise of HB961 in Virginia, and as you might expect, they’re spinning furiously to try to portray the defeat of Northam’s biggest anti-gun bill as no big deal.
In a new editorial, the Post editors claim that the failure of the gun, magazine, and suppressor ban is just a temporary setback, and that before long Virginia Democrats will be successful in imposing the prohibition on commonly owned arms and magazines.
The assault weapons ban seemed to attract the most attention during the Virginia legislative session, but gun-control advocates had not made it their priority. Certainly they supported a ban on assault weapons, similar to one that saved lives when it was in effect on a federal level from 1994 to 2004. But volunteers from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, for example, spent more energy lobbying for an expansion of background checks and adoption of legislation that would allow judges to order people to turn in their guns if they are deemed after a hearing to be a threat to themselves or others. Those measures — along with reimposition of a one-per-month limit on handgun purchases, and power for cities and towns to establish their own gun ordinances — appear headed for final approval from the House and Senate. Mr. Northam has said he will sign them into law.
Something tells me if HB961 had actually passed the state Senate in Virginia, instead of dying in committee, the editors of the Washington Post wouldn’t have written anything about the bill not being a big priority for gun control activists. With the bill failing, however, the editors have to come up with some reason why it wasn’t successfully rammed through the legislature like the other gun control bills they mentioned.
Even though the Post claims the ban on modern sporting rifles, magazines with a capacity of more than 12-rounds, and suppressors wasn’t something gun control activists were focused on, the editors say they expect similar legislation to become law in Virginia soon.
That Virginia, home to the National Rifle Association, would advance such an ambitious reform agenda is testament to the strength of the grass-roots movement for gun control. It suggests that a ban on assault-style weapons will be in place before too long, in Virginia and maybe beyond.
The “grass-roots” gun control movement in Virginia has been almost entirely funded by Michael Bloomberg, who spent millions of dollars in the state in the 2019 elections backing anti-gun candidates in vulnerable swing districts. His money paid off, but it’s important to note that if 6,000 votes spread out across dozens of state legislative races had gone the other way, anti-gun politicians would still be in the minority in Virginia.
I don’t think the 2019 elections were a reflection of a permanent anti-gun majority, in other words. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those Democrats who eagerly accepted Bloomberg’s help last fall aren’t running away from his support in 2021. Bloomberg’s presidential aspirations have deepened the divide in the Democrat party between those who are happy to throw their support behind the billionaire in exchange for some campaign cash and those who say Bloomberg is simply trying to buy off politicians to get his way.
Washington Post is right about one thing in its editorial; several bad bills are indeed likely to become bad laws in Virginia, even if the centerpiece of Ralph Northam’s anti-gun agenda was defeated. Gun owners in the state and across the country simply must remain engaged and involved, not only in the legislative fights we’re currently facing, but in the battle for the White House and Congress that will be decided on Election Day in November.