Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is supporting an “assault weapons” ban that would prohibit the sale of semi-automatic firearms such as the popular AR-15.
The bill, which is still being worked out in preparation for the upcoming state legislative session, would grandfather the weapons of existing owners as long as they are registered.
“In this case, the governor’s assault weapons ban will include a grandfather clause for individuals who already own assault weapons, with the requirement they register their weapons before the end of a designated grace period,” said Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky. “Additional details on this and all other bills will be announced prior to the start of the upcoming session.”
The Northam-backed bill is one of many bans being proposed for the 2020 General Assembly session as Democrats gear up to take advantage of their newly gained majority in both legislative houses.
An early draft of a bill by incoming Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw would make it a felony to possess a pistol, rifle, or shotgun that falls under a definition of “assault weapon.” Saslaw’s legislation elicited widespread backlash from Second Amendment supporters for not appearing to contain any exception for owners who already possess the outlawed weapons.
In a phone interview with the Virginia Mercury, Saslaw said Northam’s proposal to grandfather in existing firearms “would make sense.”
“I’m not going to lock up a large part of Virginia,” he added.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), a pro-Second Amendment group, called Saslaw’s bill “a bridge too far” and emphasized that they would continue to oppose any form of ban on “assault weapons.”
“Who are WE to negotiate away the right of future generations to own AR-15s, or their equivalent, and magazines of whatever capacity they want?” VCDL wrote in an e-mail to supporters. “Who are WE to give away the right of future generations to protect themselves from criminals or from a government that’s gone tyrannical, just so we can selfishly have our guns and magazines now?”
Additional bills are in the works, including legislation to limit magazine capacity and to ban features such as bump stocks, suppressors, bayonet and grenade launcher mounts, folding or telescoping stocks, and pistol grips.
Democrats also want to establish universal background checks, toughen penalties for allowing someone under 18 to access loaded firearms, reinstate the one-handgun-a-month rule, allow municipalities to “enact any firearms ordinances that are stricter than state law,” and impose extreme risk protection laws, also known as red flag laws.
Representative Tony Lovasco of the Missouri House of Representatives succinctly expressed both the unconstitutionality and the danger of red flag laws:
Such laws often allow a judge to issue an order of confiscation “ex parte”, meaning without you [being] present. Because it’s a civil process, you aren’t entitled to a public defender, or even afforded the opportunity to defend yourself.
Once a protective order is issued, law enforcement [officers] are dispatched to search your property and seize your weapons — without criminal charges ever being filed, or even probable cause that an actual crime has been committed.
To make matters worse, Red Flag hearings can be adjudicated based on uncorroborated claims made by a single individual. Perhaps it’s an angry spouse, jealous co-worker, or disgruntled neighbor. All it takes is for someone to make a convincing argument that you are a danger to yourself or others, and your property is taken from you and you lose your right to defend yourself.
Virginia Democrats are also moving to criminalize tactical training and increase activities for “paramilitary” activities.
“They’re pieces of legislation that will save lives, they’re also pieces of legislation that Virginians agree with,” Northam said of the proposed suite of prohibitions.
The push for gun control by Virginia lawmakers has led various counties and municipalities throughout the state to declare themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries, meaning they will not enforce potential new gun laws.
Scott Jenkins, the Sheriff of Culpeper County, has proposed deputizing thousands of citizens to exclude them from gun bans.
“If necessary, I plan to properly screen and deputize thousands of our law-abiding citizens to protect their constitutional right to own firearms,” Jenkins said.
Northam has denied that the gun laws he champions would be unconstitutional.
“I hear people out there saying that they don’t want law enforcement to enforce unconstitutional laws. Well we’re not going to propose or pass any unconstitutional laws,” he said. “So that’s something we should all agree on.”
Image: artas via iStock / Getty Images Plus
Luis Miguel is a writer whose journalistic endeavors shed light on the Deep State, the immigration crisis, and the enemies of freedom. Follow his exploits on Facebook, Twitter, Bitchute, and at luisantoniomiguel.com.