Posted by 17 February 2020
A ban on some types of semi-automatic firearms with military features is dead – for now – in Virginia. But legislators could bring up a ban on guns they label as “assault weapons” in 2021.
When Democrats took control of the legislature in January 2020, they made gun control one of their top priorities. They had the support of Democratic Governor Ralph Northam in these efforts. He had long supported measures like limiting handgun purchases and banning assault weapons, but he faced opposition when Republicans controlled both houses of the legislature. With Democrats taking the majority in the 2019 elections, however, it paved the way to achieving new restrictions on gun ownership.
While legislators have passed a variety of gun control measures, a Senate committee blocked the assault weapons ban this week. Instead of prohibiting these guns, legislators voted to request a study of the issue from a state commission. They postponed a vote on the ban until 2021.
Supports of an assault weapons ban argue that these guns are military guns that do not belong in civilian hands. They argue that such a ban will reduce mass shootings. Opponents counter that these guns only look like military guns, and that they are only used in a very small amount of crimes. They also point out that studies found little to no effect on crime reduction during a federal assault weapons ban.
Many pro-gun Virginians have rallied in Richmond, urging legislators to vote against gun control.
The Senate committee vote effectively ends efforts this year to enact a ban this year. It remains to be seen what a study will produce and whether legislators will have an appetite for such a ban next year.
Do you support banning semi-automatic firearms that have the same cosmetic features as military guns?