U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- The Virginia bill to ban “assault weapons”, HB 961, is highly controversial. It is one of the items credited with bringing over 22,000 Second Amendment supporters to the Virginia Capitol to lobby their legislators. 91 of 95 counties in Virginia have passed Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions, saying they will not comply with such legislation.
The Virginia legislature, with a new Democrat party majority in the House of Representatives (55-45) and the Senate (21-19) and a Democrat Governor, has been energized to pass bills long considered to be outside acceptable limits.
The Democrats passed their revised “assault weapons” ban on 11 February 2020, by a narrow majority, (51-48) in the House. Several Democrats joined all Republicans in voting against the bill.
The bill combines numerous evolving definitions of “assault weapons”. It includes many of the most popular semi-automatic centerfire rifles, large numbers of semi-automatic centerfire pistols, and many shotguns. It bans “trigger activators” which appear to be bump stocks. It appears to grandfather silencers legally owned prior to the enactment of the bill. Here is the summary of the bill. From HB 961:
Prohibiting sale, transport, etc., of assault firearms, certain firearm magazines, silencers, and trigger activators; penalties. Expands the definition of “assault firearm” and prohibits any person from importing, selling, transferring, manufacturing, purchasing, or transporting an assault firearm. A violation is a Class 6 felony. The bill prohibits a dealer from selling, renting, trading, or transferring from his inventory an assault firearm to any person. The bill makes it a Class 6 felony to import, sell, transfer, manufacture, purchase, possess, or transport silencers, and trigger activators, all defined in the bill. The bill makes it a Class 6 felony to import, sell, transfer, manufacture, purchase, or transport a large-capacity firearm magazine, as defined in the bill, and a Class 1 misdemeanor to possess such large-capacity firearm magazine. Any person who legally owns a large-capacity firearm magazine, silencer, or trigger activator on July 1, 2020, may retain possession until January 1, 2021. During that time, such person shall (i) render the large-capacity firearm magazine, silencer, or trigger activator inoperable; (ii) remove the large-capacity firearm magazine, silencer, or trigger activator from the Commonwealth; (iii) transfer the large-capacity firearm magazine, silencer, or trigger activator to a person outside the Commonwealth who is not prohibited from possessing it; or (iv) surrender the large-capacity firearm magazine, silencer, or trigger activator to a state or local law-enforcement agency.
Last-minute wrangling likely grandfathered in silencers which are in legal possession when (and if) the bill becomes law. The summary says possession of silencers is banned. That was changed. Here are the relevant paragraphs from the engrossed bill as it passed the House:
§ 18.2-308.11. Import, sale, transfer, etc., of silencers; penalty.
A. For purposes of this section, “silencer” means any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a firearm, including any part or combination of parts designed or intended for use in assembling or fabricating such a device.
B. It is unlawful for any person to import, sell, transfer, manufacture, or purchase a silencer, provided that a person may transfer a silencer in accordance with the provisions of the National Firearms Act (26 U.S.C. § 5801 et seq.). A violation of this section is punishable as a Class 6 felony.
Notice possession is not banned, but any further acquisition is.
The Supreme Court has been reluctant to take any new Second Amendment cases for a decade. Some appellate courts have ruled the Second Amendment does not protect semi-automatic rifles or magazines over 10 rounds. Others have ruled the Second Amendment has no effect outside the home.
The Supreme Court has two new justices in Gorsuch and Kavanagh. It is currently working on a case involving the Second Amendment. It should publish a decision by the end of June. No one knows how the Supreme Court will rule on the issue.
HB 961 may be defeated in the Virginia Senate, which holds a slim majority of Democrats 21-19. Most politicians want to keep their seats. This bill is incredibly toxic in Virginia.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.
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