After narrowly passing out of a House committee last Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam’s gun bill is on track for a final vote by the Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday. If approved, HB961 would then head over to the state Senate, where four Democrat senators have already spoken in opposition to the bill as introduced.
I’m really pleased that David Adams, legislative affairs director for the Virginia Shooting Sports Association was able to join me on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co. to talk about the latest language of the bill and its current prospects in both the House and Senate.
Adams believes there’ll be bipartisan opposition to the gun ban bill, which also bans the continued possession of all ammunition magazines that can hold more than 12-rounds, as well as banning the future sale and manufacturing of many semi-automatic long guns and AR-pistols and all suppressors. Whether there’s enough to defeat the bill in the House remains an open question.
According to Adams, as late as last Tuesday folks at the state capitol were hearing that HB961 didn’t have the votes and Democrats weren’t planning on bringing up the bill. Clearly something changed, and Adams believes it was intense lobbying by the governor’s office that ultimately led House Democrats to start moving on the bill.
Northam wants to sign something that he can call an “assault weapons” ban, even if the particulars get watered down in the process. The important thing is to get the ban on the books. Democrats will be in control of the legislature next year as well, and he can always push for them to “close loopholes” that “allow Virginians to continue to possess these battlefield weapons of war” in the 2021 session. That’s why, no matter how many times this bill is amended, the original intent of the governor cannot be forgotten. Originally the governor was backing SB16, which would have compelled Virginia gun owners to get rid of their so-called assault weapons along with any magazines capable of holding more than 10-rounds, all suppressors, and all “trigger activators” as well.
Only after the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement began did Sen. Dick Saslaw, the bill’s sponsor, and Gov. Northam begin to back off their support for the bill. Northam realized he wasn’t going to be able to get everything he wanted this session, but he still believes he can reap the public relations victory that will come with passage of watered-down gun control legislation, even if the bills do nothing to prevent violent crime or protect Virginians.
Adams does have a little bit of good news for gun owners in the state. With the crossover deadline for legislation coming up on Tuesday, a number of bad bills will be done for the year, including one that would have banned many large commercial ranges in the state, a bill targeting outdoor ranges, and a bill that would have banned all non-lead ammunition from being sold or possessed in the state. That’s good, but there are still plenty of awful bills that will likely become terrible laws still making their way through the legislature.
Be sure to check out the entire interview above, and stick around afterwards for today’s armed citizen story, the criminal history of the man suspected of ambushing several police officers in the Bronx of the weekend, and a Michigan officer honored for helping to save the life of a toddler last fall.