Elections have consequences and all elections matter, especially at the state and local level. For nearly ten years, the Virginia Republican Party has yet to win another statewide race; the 2009 gubernatorial election was the last time they won. In 2017, Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam beat Ed Gillespie, and they virtually wiped out the GOP in the state. The GOP maintains two-seat majorities in both the House of Delegates and the state Senate. It’s not pretty, given that Republicans use to control over 60 seats. That sizable majority was the reason why former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, another Democrat, couldn’t push a far left agenda. He even signed into law a deal on the state’s concealed carry reciprocity laws, which were about to be shredded by state Attorney General Mark Herring, who is considering running for governor in 2021; Virginia bars consecutive terms for governors.
With the tide changing in the state, Northam is going all-out on this anti-gun blitz. He smells blood. And even if he isn’t successful this session, he’s laying the groundwork to pass this gun control package that includes a so-called assault weapons ban and universal background checks. The latter is a prelude to a national registry. The former is grounded in total confiscation. Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon has more:
The plan to ban the sale and possession of certain kinds of firearms proposed by Virginia governor Ralph Northam (D.) could affect millions of gun owners, an industry group said on Friday.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which represents gun manufacturers and dealers, said the vague description of the legislation released by Northam on Jan. 4 would apply to most firearms currently on sale in the commonwealth.
"The legislative proposals being discussed would put most firearms beyond the reach of law-abiding Virginians who choose the firearms of their choice to protect themselves, hunt, and practice recreational target shooting," said Lawrence G. Keane, the group's general counsel. "That could potentially impact the availability of tens of millions of firearms."
While short on details, Northam's announcement said part of the proposed gun-control package would ban the "sale, purchase, possession, and transport" of undefined "assault firearms" including "any firearm that is equipped with a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition." Since the vast majority of semiautomatic handguns and rifles in the state are sold standard with magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, it appears the proposed ban would affect most firearms on sale in Virginia. Additionally, the announcement of the ban did not include mention of any grandfathering to allow what NSSF estimated would be millions of Virginians who already own such firearms to legally keep them.
The only defining characteristic they've released thus far is any firearm "equipped" with a magazine that holds 10 or more rounds. That's nearly every semi-automatic handgun and rifle sold in the state. The vast majority come standard with magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) January 14, 2019
The governor's office refused to return my calls or answer my questions on the proposed ban so there's no more details on what the actual legislation will look like or how Democrats would enforce such a law.— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) January 14, 2019
If the legislation matches the governor's announcement, which isn't a guarantee given how vauge and poorly written the announcement is, the proposal would be by far the most radical gun ban in the country. No other state has attempted this kind of confiscation on this scale.— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) January 14, 2019
California's recent expansions of their assault weapons ban would be closest but even they have a grandfather clause.— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) January 14, 2019
Republicans, who currently control both houses of Virginia's legislature, have said they'll fight the governor's gun control proposals. The NRA, NSSF, and VCDL have all spoken out against them as well.— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) January 14, 2019
Welp, I was wrong in guessing the actual legislation wouldn't be as radical as what the governor's press release said. Here is HB2492 as introduced by Delegate Tran (D). It includes a complete ban on possession of "assault firearms." https://t.co/B3vol5kjkc— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) January 14, 2019
Here is the relevant portion: "It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly and intentionally possess or transport any assault firearm or to knowingly and intentionally carry about his person, hidden from common observation, an assault firearm." pic.twitter.com/9pnRcCrpQb— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) January 14, 2019
An "assault firearm" is "any semi-automatic center-fire rifle or pistol that expels single or multiple projectiles by action of an explosion of a combustible material and is equipped at the time of the offense with a magazine that will hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition."— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) January 14, 2019
OR "any semi-automatic center-fire rifle or pistol that expels single or multiple projectiles by action of an explosion of a combustible material" and is "designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped with a folding stock."— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) January 14, 2019
This formulation will likely appear odd to people familiar with traditional "assault weapons" bans. That's because they're trying to enact it by expanding Virginia's unique "assault firearms" law which only currently applies to foreign nationals who aren't permanent residents.— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) January 14, 2019
The National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, VA Republicans, and other pro-Second Amendment groups have vowed to block these measures, but I’m not optimistic. The next governor will be a Democrat, and the legislature is likely to flip in the next cycle of elections. Some of this horrendous anti-gun package will become law, and the VA GOP has already caved on Medicaid expansion. It’s a mess. The first round will likely end up being a victory for the GOP and gun rights groups, but the long-term outlook does not look good.