By Jeff Hulbert
The “assault weapons” ban bill that brought more than 25,000 gun rights supporters to the Virginia statehouse last month has been shelved for the 2020 legislative session.
The vote in the Senate Judiciary committee to push the bill onto the 2021 legislative calendar so that it can be reviewed by a state crime commission drew raucous cheers from hearing room spectators as well from adjacent hallways, which were packed with Second Amendment activists.
Four Democrats joined the committee’s Republicans in the 10-5 vote, which takes Governor Ralph Northam’s top gun control bill off the table for at least a year. The proposal called for prohibitions on the sale of many semiautomatic firearms while banning the possession of magazines that could hold more than 12 rounds.
Governor Northam’s office issued this statement:
“While the Governor is disappointed in today’s vote, he fully expects the Crime Commission to give this measure the detailed review that the Senators called for. We will be back next year”.
Philip Van Cleave, leader of the Commonwealth’s dominant gun rights group, the Virginia Citizens Defense League, says the massive crowds of gun owners that flooded the Virginia statehouse grounds and surrounding streets on January 20th played a major role in the downfall of the Democrat’s highest priority gun control bill.
Joining Van Cleave in the hearing room to witness the Virginia AWB downfall was Sen. Amanda Chase, who traveled with VCDL supporters across the state as part of the Second Amendment sanctuary movement project that captured the support of about 97% of Virginia counties and towns.
Sen. Chase, a Republican who is known for wearing a sidearm on the floor and at legislative meetings in the statehouse, is set to announce her run to be the Old Dominion’s next governor when Ralph Northam—who is limited to a single term—leaves office in 2022.
As one of the more visible Virginia sheriffs in this political battle, Culpeper County’s Scott Jenkins was one of those applauding from the hearing room gallery as the bill was pushed aside for the year.
Jenkins had publicly pronounced that he was willing to deputize every gun owner in his county to shield them from Democrat overreach with new gun control.
Following the vote, Sheriff Jenkins seconded the notion that the momentum for a Virginia Assault Weapons Ban could be further weakened in 2021 by an intense conservative voter turnout this coming November.
Gun control groups were quick to register their intense disappointment at the downfall of the 2020 Virginia AWB.
Kris Brown of the Brady Group tweeted:
— Kris Brown (@KrisB_Brown) February 17, 2020
The Coalition To Stop Gun Violence, who sent their top lobbyist to the witness podium today at the hearing, reacted bitterly:
“Virginia senators—some of whom came to us seeking an endorsement last summer—deferred when they should have acted. They displayed the timidity and small mindedness that has dominated the General Assembly in previous sessions under Republican control. They called themselves gun violence prevention champions and then cut and run when their jobs got hard. The bill will be issue number one in the 2021 session. We are hopeful that the Democratic majority in the Senate will have located its backbone by then.”
As of publication time, Shannon Watts of the Bloomberg-funded gun control group, Moms Demanding Action for Gun Sense, had not issued a statement.
For gun rights supporters, the news travelled fast. Within minutes of the Virginia AWB being shelved, the Women’s Defense League of New Hampshire was trumpeting the victory.
As one of the citizen’s seen shouting at the House committee that advanced the AWB to the Senate earlier this month, Mark Curtis of Beaver Dam, Virginia, said he was pleased with the 2020 AWB defeat.
Curtis said he and his fellow gun rights supporters will return as often as is necessary to keep the pressure on the gun control Democrats who, he says, continue to threaten Second Amendment rights.
All images courtesy Jeff Hulbert. Jeff is the founder of The Patriot Picket.