“YEAS: 10 NAYS: 5” read the tally board, and with that, Virginia gun owners won the right to be free from confiscations for another year. House Bill 961, introduced by Delegate Mark Levine (D-Alexandria), would have banned possession of magazines that can hold more than 12 rounds and the sale of many common types of semiautomatic rifles and pistols. Monday morning’s procedural vote in Virginia’s Senate Judiciary Committee killed the proposal to ban the most popular semiautomatic firearms and accessories in the commonwealth. Four Democrats voted with the unanimous Republicans to kill the bill, and one betrayed her pledge to let the people keep their gun magazines.
When Democrats took control over both houses of the legislature in November 2019, many thought the anti-gunners were going to go through gun-rights like Sherman through Atlanta. Michael “Mike” Bloomberg, the rabidly anti-gun billionaire, poured money into races to elect candidates who would favor gun control. While many of the new legislators were open about their willingness to enact new firearm restrictions, the election was not a referendum on gun laws, and Virginians have now made that point abundantly clear.
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
The pre-filed bills and their shockingly broad gun controls and confiscations gave rise to the sanctuary city & county movement. Nearly all of the counties and independent cities in the state have now passed resolutions against state infringement on gun-rights. The effort to enact these pledges was led by the Virginia Citizens’ Defense League (VCDL)*, whose president Philip Van Cleave told LN his organization has grown over 300% since November. The backlash to the confiscation proposals was intense and widespread, culminating in the VCDL’s lobby day rally on January 20 in Richmond, which we reported on live.
That Doesn’t Make Sense
Did Democratic Senator Jennifer Boysko of Virginia’s 33rd district lie to her constituents when she promised not to vote for the ban? Her district includes Dulles Airport and much of the surrounding area, and leans heavily Democratic. It’s still Virginia, however, and plenty enough of those Democrats own modern firearms and want to keep them. Dialing back earlier support for the ban, Boysko told a Leesburg crowd in January:
“An assault weapon is more complex than I thought it was,” and “having a 13-capacity firearm – that doesn’t make sense to ban that.”
Then she voted for the gun and magazine ban. Will her duplicity cost her? Only the polls will tell. As they will for the Democratic Senators who, conversely, voted in support of gun rights: Creigh Deeds of Bath County, John Edwards of Roanoke, Chap Petersen of Fairfax City, and Scott Surovell of Fairfax County.
LN was sent the Boysko video by a new gun-rights activist and YouTube channel owner, John Williams of Fairfax County. Williams, who traveled to the Richmond rally, is a case study for new gun rights activism in Virginia. He thought that the bans passed in New York, California and Washington would never come to the Old Dominion. He was spurred into action “[a]s soon as it became evident that was the Democrat plan here, doing nothing was no longer an option.” In addition to lobbying, protesting, and rallying, Mr. Williams is putting committee meetings online. “Not surprisingly, the General Assembly doesn’t make it convenient or easy to find recordings [of the legislative process],” the activist told LN. He thinks the more his fellow Virginians “know about the shenanigans happening in Richmond,” the more engaged they will be.
Mr. Williams, the VCDL, and many other gun rights proponents will turn now to the numerous other proposals still alive in the legislature. “Complacency is what got us in this mess, I plan on doing my part to remain active,” Williams said. He already has meetings scheduled to speak with his legislators.
*The author has been a member of the VCDL
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