Northam's Gun Ban Bill Defeated in Committee. What Happens Next?

Now that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s gun ban bill has been pushed to the Virginia Crime Commission to “study” the bill, HB961 is dead for this session. That doesn’t mean, however, that gun owners are out of the woods just yet. As David Adams, legislative chair of the Virginia Shooting Sports Association tells me on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co., it’s possible that Northam and House Democrats will insert the language banning modern sporting rifles, ammunition magazines with a 13+ round capacity, suppressors, and “trigger activators” into one of the gun control bills that is still alive this session.


House Democrats have already modified several of the gun control bills approved by the state Senate, and if the Senate doesn’t agree to the changes, those bills will head to a conference committee to iron out the differences. The same is likely to happen to gun control bills that originated in the House, but are now being considered by senators. Those conference committees aren’t public hearings, so gun owners won’t have a chance to attend. It also only takes a simple majority vote by the conference committee to send the modified bills to the floor of the House and Senate.

It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for Northam to do this if the four Democrat senators who opposed HB961 remain firm in their opposition, but the governor is serious about getting something he can call an “assault weapons ban” to his desk, and he still has some room to maneuver legislatively. The most obvious move would be to grandfather in existing magazines in the hopes of bringing recalcitrant Democrats on board, which might be why we didn’t see such an amendment offered in the Judiciary committee on Monday. Northam may be holding that back as a last-ditch effort to save the gun ban language and deliver him a political victory at the expense of the rights of Virginians.


Even if the gun ban language remains off the table this session, there are plenty of bills moving forward that are awful for the exercise of our Second Amendment rights, including legislation that guts the state’s firearm preemption law, criminalizes parents who allow their minor child access to a firearm to hunt or use in self-defense, rations the purchase of a firearm to one-per-month, changes the training requirements for a concealed carry license, and more. Virginia gun owners can and should be proud of defeating HB961, but our work isn’t done yet.

Also on today’s show we have the story of an 18-year old in North Carolina sentenced to probation earlier this month for a string of crimes who’s now accused of murdering a teenager in Raleigh last week, an armed resident of Birmingham, Alabama who shot the man trying to rob him, and a police officer and a jeweler in southern California who helped an 89-year old veteran when he lost the most treasured memento from his marriage to his late wife (it’s gonna get a little dusty when you read this, just so you know).


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