In a major defeat for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and fellow Democrats in the commonwealth, the Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee voted to not move forward with HB961, the "assault weapons" ban and magazine confiscation bill, on Monday for the rest of the year.
In a 10-5 vote, with four Democrats joining the Republicans, the Judiciary Committee voted for a crime commission to study the bill to see if it is worth pursing next year. The bill would have banned AR-15s and other similar styles of rifles and banned being able to own magazines that hold more than 12 rounds.
When the bill failed to pass, cheers erupted and some, including law enforcement officers, stood up in celebration. Virginia Delegate Mark Levine (D), who helped passed the bill in the House, and his colleagues in the front row were seen to be very disappointed.
The majority in the committee room were pro-Second Amendment activists, with a few gun control supporters in attendance as well.
Photo shows gun owners filling in (right photo). Gun control side is sparse (left), but for lobbyists in the front and some gun owners in back row. pic.twitter.com/73gZtq0y4l— Phil Van Cleave VCDL (@VCDL_ORG) February 17, 2020
Phil Van Cleave, the president of the Virginia's Citizens Defense League, credited the strong showing during the Second Amendment Lobby Day in January and the Second Amendment sanctuary movement for the bill's failure. Some county sheriffs have said they will not enforce certain gun control bills if they become law.
Gun ban bill defeated! This morning the VA Senate Judiciary Cmte voted to table HB 961 for 1 year. Three sheriffs were present: myself, Sheriff Vaughn, & Sheriff Millirons. Our 2A patriots sent a message, loud and clear, on these bills. We cannot rest however. Other bills remain. pic.twitter.com/8MXO9hqErg— Scott Jenkins (@ScottHJenkins) February 17, 2020
HB961 went down by a 10 to 5 vote! Everybody’s hard work, Lobby Day, and sanctuary movement paid off!— Phil Van Cleave VCDL (@VCDL_ORG) February 17, 2020
"This is a victory for honest, hard-working Virginians who shared their support for the Second Amendment in rallies on the capitol, in one-on-one meetings with their lawmakers, in letters-to-the-editor, and in phone calls, emails,and texts to their state senators," National Rifle Association spokesperson Catherine Mortensen said. "We thank the senators on the judiciary committee for listening to their constituents and delivering a bi-partisan defeat of an egregious gun ban that would have criminalized law-abiding gun owners."