Friday, January 17, 2020
Assault on the Second Amendment’: Virginia Senate passes three gun control bills
by Spencer Neale
January 16, 2020 07:43 PM
Virginia Democrats took an important step toward passing several gun control bills they have prioritized during this year's General Assembly session.
The majority-Democrat state Senate passed legislation that would restrict monthly gun purchases, expand background checks on firearms, and allow localities to ban guns in certain designated areas.
Senate Bill 69 amends Virginia law to restrict citizens' ability to purchase more than one handgun per month, Senate Bill 70 requires mandatory background checks for all private sales of guns, and Senate Bill 35 requires localities to ban guns at public events.
Although Democratic Sen. John Edwards struck the assembly's most controversial legislation, Senate Bill 16, which would have prohibited the sale, possession, or transfer of an assault rifle, many Republicans believe the House of Delegates will pass the similarly worded House Bill 961, which
bans the purchase or possession of assault rifles in Virginia.
“Ladies and gentleman, this is probably the first assault on the Second Amendment, and we’re going to see many after that,” Republican state Sen. Bill Stanley said.
Legislation in the Virginia General Assembly is considered by the state Senate and House of Delegates separately before being sent across chambers for review during a period known as "crossover." Bills passed in both the Senate and the House of Delegates are then given to Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to be signed into law.
Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain said the General Assembly is “hostile to the lawful possession of firearms" and that the proposal aimed to make Virginians "feel good" without tackling gun violence.
The issue of gun control in Virginia is playing out along demographic lines as urban voters demand action on gun violence while rural Virginians believe their second amendment rights are being infringed upon. More than 100 Virginia counties passed Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions after Democrats gained a majority in the General Assembly in November.
Northam, who overcame a blackface scandal last spring, has made sweeping gun reform a top priority during this session after he attempted to call an emergency session this summer when a man killed 12 people in Virginia Beach.
Northam passed an emergency rule this week barring firearms on state Capitol grounds, as tens of thousands of gun rights activists are expected to rally outside the General Assembly as part of the Virginia Citizens Defense League pro-gun rally on Monday.