A new Virginia proposal is closer to receiving the governor’s signature and announcing loudly and clearly: assaulting a law enforcement officer is now more acceptable to legislators in the Commonwealth. The bill, which downgrades the penalty for assaulting a police officer in some cases from a felony to a misdemeanor, passed the Democratic-controlled state senate by a vote of 21-15 and is supported by Democratic Governor Ralph Northam.
This new proposal is the latest development in the Commonwealth, where the legislature is also considering “defund the police” proposals, in addition to passing stringent gun control measures on Virginians earlier this year.
First, More Gun Control
Existing gun owners in Virginia, as well as those wishing to exercise their Second Amendment right for the first time, have already faced severe infringements on their right to keep and bear arms by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam. The governor and the Democratic-controlled Virginia Assembly and Senate, with the help of billionaire and failed Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, passed and signed into law several gun control bills during the 2020 legislative session that would turn unsuspecting and law-abiding Virginians into criminals.
During this time, Virginians already faced unrest and uncertainty due to the initial worries from the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Law enforcement was stretched thin. Virginia criminals were even released from jails, many of whom turned back to commit violent crimes right away.
These concerns were legitimate and felt across the country and as a result thousands of Virginians, and millions of Americans, decided to purchase firearms to take their safety into their own hands. But that didn’t stop Gov. Northam and the Virginia legislature from closing down gun stores and shooting ranges, limiting the Second Amendment options of Virginians. That the governor was rebuffed by the courts for his overreach didn’t matter as gun control supporters pushed forward.
Next up, Riots and Looting
In recent months, Americans have witnessed rioting, violence and looting erupt as calls to “defund the police” have echoed across the country. If Virginians weren’t already concerned about their safety or the ability of law enforcement to safeguard their communities, they needn’t look any further than the words of Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn. Speaking of the legislature’s remaining 2020 priorities, Filler-Corn stated in June, “We must reimagine the role of policing in our commonwealth and recommend changes in the budget that divest resources from policing.”
The Virginia governor and legislature have now enacted laws to limit Virginians’ ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights, while at the same time voicing their desire to “divest resources from policing” in Virginia communities.
We know the Virginia General Assembly will be back at it during the 2021 legislative session working to erode even more rights of law-abiding gun owners, including eyeing a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” “large capacity” magazines, suppressors and more.
“What in the World Are We Doing?”
The passage of Virginia Senate Bill 5032 now escalates the concerns of Virginians already worried about public safety and the rise of violence perpetrated against law enforcement officers across the country. Republican State Senator John Cosgrove, Jr., criticized the bill and admonished his Democratic colleagues for passing the proposal, stating “What in the world are we doing? Have you seen the attacks on police officers?”
The proposal heads to the Virginia House now, where Democrats hold a 55-45 advantage. The prospects of the bill passing are good and would then head to Gov. Northam’s desk for his signature.
Americans have voiced their concerns for their own safety by exercising their Second Amendment right to purchase a firearm. In fact, nearly 5 million have done so for the first time so far in 2020.
As the 2020 elections draw near and communities face more calls by citizens to protect their right to keep and bear arms, or for more gun control limiting that right and to further “defund the police,” Americans should utilize NSSF’s #GUNVOTE campaign so they don’t risk their rights at the ballot box in November.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.