Author of Virginia Gun Ban Still Hoping for Youngkin's Approval

AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez

Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds was one of a handful of Democrats who helped to defeat a ban on so-called assault weapons in 2020, when Democrats had complete control of the state legislature as well as the governor's office, but even then Deeds based his objections on specifics with the proposal and not a gun ban in general. 


This year Deeds is the architect of a similar gun ban bill that's already won approval from the Senate, and he says he's hopeful (if not exactly confident) that Gov. Glenn Youngkin will give his stamp of approval to the ban even though gun control activists have all but written off any changes of the bill becoming law this year.

“This is not something he’s taking a specific stand on in the past, so he might well sign it,” Deeds said about the bill to ban assault firearms. 

That bill, modeled after the 1994 federal assault firearm ban, is slated to head to the Governor’s desk along with a House of Delegates companion bill.

The 1994 federal bill changed the criminal code to prohibit the manufacture, transfer, or possession of certain semiautomatic assault weapons. That bill expired in 2004 and Congress has been at an impasse regarding similar legislation since. That impasse has left efforts up to each state.

“There is no hope in hell that the Governor will sign the bill, that’s the sad part,” [gun control activist Andrew] Goddard said. “It really is something that needs to be done at the federal level, but I know that other states have managed to pull this off. I think it’s a bridge too far at the moment in Virginia with the current governor.”

Goddard views the efforts to write and pass the legislation in the General Assembly as laying the groundwork for the next governor. He hopes that in 2026, if a Democrat were to win the governor’s seat and the party were to maintain control of the General Assembly, the bills could pass.

“I hate it to be based on having a trifecta of Democrats, people are not split that way,” he said.


No, they're not, but that cuts both ways. There may be some Republicans who'd support Deeds' gun ban bill, but I know a lot of rural Democrats who wish their party would listen to them and quit trying to infringe on their right to keep and bear arms. The disappearance of pro-2A Democratic candidates is one reason why Republicans were able to increase their share of the rural vote in 2021 and 2023. Even though Democrats were able to capture one-seat majorities in both chambers, they did so with a couple of very narrow victories in suburban swing districts, while rural Virginia continued to trend red. 

In my rural county Democrat Terry McAuliffe was able to attract 43 percent of the vote in his first run for governor in 2013, and even won four of my county's ten precincts. By 2021, however,  McAuliffe won just 36 percent of the vote in Buckingham County and lost every one of the ten precincts. I know firsthand that McAuliffe's support for a gun ban, along with the Democrats' attempts to enshrine a ban into law in 2020, was a major issue for voters where I live and helped to propel Youngkin to victory, and it will be one of the most important factors for voters in next year's election cycle as well.

Youngkin won't be on the ballot in 2025, but I think he is looking towards another political office in the future, and I agree with Goddard that it is highly unlikely the governor will approve Deeds' semi-auto ban once it gets to his desk. But that piece of legislation is one of about three dozen gun bills that are likely to pass the Democrat-controlled General Assembly, and VCDL's Philip Van Cleave says he anticipates the governor will approve of at least two; a bill expanding tax credits for gun safes and locks, and one that would hold parents accountable if they don't secure their guns and one of their kids uses it to commit a crime. 


Virginia gun owners should be contacting the governor's office now, but they should also be looking ahead to next year's elections. Anti-gun activists are already doing the same, and they're salivating over the prospect of once again having complete control of the levers of state government... especially now that the few pro-gun Democrats in the legislature have either fallen in line behind their anti-2A agenda or have been primaried and replaced by true believers in the cult of gun control. 

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