Virginia’s gun owners won a political victory this week but the fight is not over, warns the spokesman for a national gun-rights organization.
In a 10-5 vote, the Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee postponed action on HB 961 that would have banned the sale, purchase, and transfer of semiautomatic firearms, including popular AR-15-style rifles, in the state.
The measure would also ban the legal possession of gun magazines that hold more than 12 rounds, which are described as "large capacity" by gun-control advocates. Semi-auto rifles commonly accept standard 30-round magazines, and larger semi-auto pistols can carry more than 12 rounds, too.
“You don’t pop the cork until they bang the gavel,” Mike Hammond, legislative counsel for Gun Owners of America, says of the vote that came Monday and sent the measure to a state crime commission for review.
A spokesman for Gov. Ralph Northam, in fact, told NPR the governor will be waiting for the commission to give the bill a “detailed review” and report its findings.
“We will be back next year,” the spokesman vowed.
The controversial bill was opposed by four Democrats who voted with the state's new Republican minority that has witnessed Democrats move quickly on gun restrictions and abortion in the legislature.
NPR concluded that tabling the bill dealt a “stinging blow” to Gov. Northam and his allies in the legislature since it appeared weeks ago that eight gun-control bills would get passed “unimpeded” by the new Democratic majority.
Other gun-control measures are still coming up for votes that would limit handgun purchases to one a month, require background checks for even private firearms sales, and impose "read flag" laws on Virginia's citizens.
“I wouldn't say it's dead yet,” Hammond says of the “gun safety” push by the Democratic majority. “But it certainly is good news that four legislators have balked at banning and confiscating 1.5 million semi-autos in Virginia.”