Virginia Democrats Ramping Up Attacks on the Second Amendment

Townhall Media

Tuesday was "crossover day" at the Virginia legislature, meaning any bills that have a chance at being enacted into law had to pass out of their originating chamber by the end of business. As Philip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League shared on today's Bearing Arms Cam & Co, the vast majority of the Democrats' anti-gun agenda is still alive and kicking, even though any bills that manage to get to Gov. Glenn Youngkin face an uncertain future. 


According to the VCDL's Legislative Tracking Tool (an invaluable resource for Virginia gun owners, by the way), more than 40 anti-gun measures crossed over before the deadline. Bans on so-called assault weapons and large capacity magazines, raising the age to purchase a long gun from 18 to 21, limiting concealed carry reciprocity, imposing unconstitutional storage mandates for firearms and ammunition, and creating new "gun-free zones" are among the measures that still pose real danger to the Second Amendment rights of Virginians. 

Van Cleave says that despite the slim one-seat majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, Democrats aren't even trying to hide what they're up to this session. 

"HB 2 and SB 2 [the semi-auto ban bills], I think they may have picked those numbers intentionally. They're trying to turn us into California, and if you remember it was SB 2 in California that was a massive attack on gun rights; basically they turned the entire state into a 'gun-free zone'," Van Cleave noted. 

While virtually every one of the "sensitive places" challenged in May v. Bonta have been placed on hold by a federal judge, at least temporarily, Van Cleave is right to compare the anti-gun agenda in Richmond to what regularly comes out of Sacramento. The big difference is that in California, Democrats are working with a friendly governor and have veto-proof majorities on the off chance that Gavin Newsom accidentally rejects any of the gun control measures lawmakers send his way. In Virginia, Democrats have just one-vote majorities in both the House of Delegates and state Senate, yet they're legislating like they won some sort of statewide mandate on gun control last fall.


Even as bills targeting lawful gun ownership are passing along party lines, legislation aimed at violent offenders is proving to be too controversial for Democrats. 

"They had two bills that would have gone after criminals. If it was a second offense for a violent crime, like a bank robbery or another crime where they used a firearm; a second offense, so they've already been convicted once before, and they get out of jail and do it again... they would have mandated a ten-year prison sentence. And the gun control groups and Democrats in unison said 'no, no, no, we don't want to do that. We want to go after concealed carry permit holders.'" 

Van Cleave described this year's session as "intentional insanity", with Democrats using crime as the excuse to crack down on lawful gun owners while they reject any measure that might put violent offenders behind bars for a prolonged period of time. 

We're now less than a month away from the final day of the 2024 session, which will gavel to a close on March 9th. Between now and then Van Cleave expects dozens of anti-2A measures to hit Youngkin's desk, and while the governor has previously said that the state's gun laws are already strong enough, he has yet to publicly come out and vow to liberally use his veto power to protect the Second Amendment rights of residents. 


As a Virginia resident, I'm hopeful that Youngkin will do the right thing and stand as a bulwark against the wave of infringements headed his way, but it would be nice to have some reassurance to that effect from the governor or his spokespeople. Youngkin hasn't said anything to indicate support for any of these gun control measures, but he's still been playing his cards close to his ever-present vest, and Van Cleave says the VCDL will be helping gun owners contact Youngkin's office once the first bill they oppose clears the legislature. 

It's also important to remember that Youngkin's term expires in early 2026, and next year's legislative elections will only include the House of Delegates, so Democrats are assured of control of at least one chamber when the next governor is sworn in. The last time Democrats had complete control of state government was in 2020, when tens of thousands of gun owners showed up at the state capitol to rally against then-Gov. Ralph Northam's semi-auto ban and other restrictions. His bill was ultimately defeated, thanks in part to defections from several Democrat state senators, but Van Cleave says those few moderate voices have either been voted out of office or are now toeing the party line. Even if Virginia gun owners think their rights are safe with Youngkin in the governor's mansion, we're just one election cycle away from the Californication of our gun laws, and now is not the time for complacency or apathy on our part. 


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