One of four Democrat state senators in Virginia who have gone on the record in opposition to Gov. Ralph Northam’s gun ban bill now says he won’t back any legislation that bans firearms or magazines.
Sen. Lynwood Lewis, who represents Virginia’s Eastern Shore as well as part of Norfolk, says in a new editorial on the state of gun legislation that his focus is on what he deems “access issues” or, as he put it, “trying to make sure that the filter between those whom we all agree should not have access to firearms is a tight one.” That’s why Lewis says he supports the universal background check bill that cleared the Senate, as well as “red flag” legislation. Lewis says bills targeting guns and magazines are a different issue entirely.
The bill which rightfully had everyone very concerned (SB16) never even made it out of committee. That is why I caution everyone who was so worried about the bill that anybody can introduce a bill — whether it passes or not is a completely different question. There is no Senate bill now regarding the banning of assault rifles. The Governor’s bill on this topic was introduced in the House of Delegates and is being carried by Delegate Mark Levine. As I stated publicly before the Session and as was reported in Eastern Shore news media I will not be supporting any type of ban legislation whether on a particular type of firearm or a particular type of magazine.
Lewis says he also has major concerns with a couple of other gun bills that actually do deal with access to firearms.
In addition Senator Howell has proposed SB581 which is very problematic and further highlights the cultural divide in our Commonwealth. That bill has an unintended consequence making it very difficult for our young people between the ages of fourteen and eighteen to have access to firearms for hunting and other purposes. Unless that legislation is amended in some significant way I will not be voting in favor of it.
Senator Saslaw put in a bill which would raise the legal age for firearm purchases to twenty-one. As a general philosophical approach to legislation which seeks to increase the age threshold from eighteen to twenty-one I have a problem, since we allow eighteen year olds to vote and in all other respects be treated as adult members of society. I do not believe that we can pick and choose for which things they should be held accountable as adults. We should have had that discussion decades ago when we decided to treat eighteen year olds as full adults. Unless we want to have that larger discussion again, I will resist increasing the age to twenty-one.
Democrats have a 21-19 advantage in Virginia’s state senate, which means without Lewis’s support, the best Democrats could hope for would be a 20-20 tie with the tie-breaking vote to approve a gun ban coming from Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax. At last report, however, Lewis has three other Democrat colleagues in the Senate who are also objecting to the current language of HB 961. If that voting bloc remains intact, Northam’s gun ban bill won’t have the votes to get to his desk.
Virginia gun owners need to keep up their contacts with legislators, even if you think your state senator or delegate is unpersuadable. They need to be hearing from their constituents, and they need to know that, despite what Michael Bloomberg tells them, the voters in their districts aren’t demanding legislation that turns legal gun owners into criminals while ignoring those actually responsible for committing robberies, shootings, and homicides. Virginia gun owners are sure to see Gov. Ralph Northam sign some awful bills, but right now there’s a real chance that the centerpiece of his gun control agenda can be defeated before it can become law.