I’ve been a guest on quite a few programs over the past couple of days talking about HB961 and what its prospects look like in the Virginia State Senate that I decided to be my own guest on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co. today to discuss the current changes of passage in the Senate, but also how we got here and how the governor’s gun ban bill has changed since it was introduced in November of 2019.
The language of Northam’s gun ban has changed quite a bit since then. Originally, the governor was backing SB16, which would have made it a felony to continue to possess so-called assault weapons, magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds, any suppressor, and any “trigger activator.” That’s the legislation that really launched the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement, and after Democrats like Rep. Donald McEachin called for Gov. Ralph Northam to call out the National Guard to enforce his gun control laws, Northam was suddenly on the defensive. He announced that he would no longer support SB16, and instead would back a bill that would permit existing gun owners to keep their banned firearms, as long as they registered their guns and themselves with the Virginia State Police.
HB961 was unveiled just before the start of the legislative session, and it sat gathering cobwebs until the deadline for bills to pass out of their house of origin approached. The bill suddenly was put on the House Public Safety Committee calendar, and a substitute version emerged on the day of the hearing. Now existing “assault weapons” were simply grandfathered in, as were suppressors. The magazine ban now applied to those capable of accepting more than 12 rounds of ammunition. It was enough to get the bill through committee and on to the House floor, where it was further amended to reduce the penalty for possessing banned magazines to a misdemeanor, though transportation of banned magazines would still be a felony.
After the House passage of HB961, its sponsor, Del. Mark Levine, did something very curious on Twitter. Even though Levine had repeatedly referred to the legislation as a gun ban, on Tuesday he was trying to tell everyone that the bill was NOT a gun ban after all.
CORRECTION: The bill does not ban assault weapons in Virginia, but it does regulate them. Possession is allowed. Purchases, sales, and transfers are restricted.
This bill will save lives. https://t.co/VuiyZ9qW7x
— Mark Levine (@DelegateMark) February 11, 2020
Why would he do that when gun control groups were gleefully celebrating the passage of a “gun ban?”
Today, @VAHouseDems made history when they voted to advance a bill to ban assault weapons.
Make no mistake, this is democracy in action. I was proud to be among the many Virginians who in November elected a gun safety majority. This is true progress! #VAleg #EndGunViolence pic.twitter.com/wXMQbQP6zw
— Kris Brown | President, bradyunited.org (@KrisB_Brown) February 11, 2020
That’s the president of the gun control group Brady calling the bill a gun ban, and no, Levine didn’t correct her.
The fact is that there are several Democrat state Senators who’ve flat out said they won’t vote for a bill that takes people’s guns or magazines, and on Tuesday, Ralph Northam’s lost-or-stolen firearms bill went down to defeat in the state Senate when two Democrats crossed party lines and voted against the measure. If Sen. Chap Petersen and Sen. Lynwood Lewis do the same with HB961, it too will die in the Senate.
Ralph Northam desperately wants to avoid that, and I’m guessing he’s willing to grandfather in existing magazines if it will mean Lewis and Petersen get behind the bill. The pair, along with Sen. Creigh Deeds and Sen. John Edwards, are going to be lobbied hard by both sides in the days to come, and Virginia gun owners, particularly those represented by these four state Senators, need to be writing and emailing their senators urging them to oppose HB961 in any form it might take. Even if every existing gun, magazine, and suppressor are deemed permissible for people to continue to possess, the bill still turns ownership of some of the most common arms and accessories into something beyond the scope of the Second Amendment, which in turn infringes on the rights of Virginians, including those who have not yet exercised their right to keep and bear these arms, but may choose to do so in the future.
Also on today’s program we have an apparent case of self-defense in Indiana, a young murder suspect in Tulsa on probation for a shooting in 2017, and a Utah police officer in the right place and at the right time to help deliver a baby on the side of the road.
Thanks as always for watching, listening, and spreading the word!