Va. Senate committee strikes ‘assault weapons’ bill, advances other proposed gun laws

They were moving the ‘Overton Window’ so the rest of their anti-gun proposals would seem more ‘reasonable’.

RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) — One of the most controversial gun control bills proposed in the Virginia General Assembly has been killed, while others passed out of committee on Monday morning.

Senate Bill 16, proposed by Sen. Richard Saslaw, would have expanded the definition of “assault firearms” under Virginia law, outlawed their possession, and outlawed the the selling or transfer of any firearm magazine with a capacity for more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

In the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday morning, as hundreds gathered outside the Virginia Capitol for a gun rights rally, Saslaw requested that his bill be pulled from consideration.

According to media outlets present at the meeting, committee Democrats unanimously voted to dismiss the bill. Republicans all abstained from voting after arguing that it was too late to dismiss the bill since it had already been docketed.

The vote came after a contentious start to the committee’s meeting, in which Sen. Mark Obenshain requested that no votes on gun control bills be passed due to the absence of Republican Sen. Stanley.

However, Democrats in charge of the committee pressed ahead as long lines of people worked their way through security outside the capitol to get inside, following a new rule passed last week barring firearms from the building.

After the committee voted to strike SB 16 from consideration, votes moved ahead on other proposed gun legislation.

Committee members voted on party lines, 9 to 5, to combine Senate Bills 22 and 69, which both would institute a “one gun a month” law for Virginia limiting citizens to one handgun purchase within any 30-day period, and moved those out of the committee.

Senate Bills 12 and 70, both of which would establish mandatory background checks for any transfer of firearms, including private sales, were combined as well and moved forward out of the committee.

Also on 9-5 party line votes, the committee reported SB 240, establishing red flag laws, out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Each of those bills will move forward to the Virginia Senate for further consideration. To become law, they would need to pass the Senate, then pass the House of Delegates, then have any differences from the different chambers resolved and voted on, and then be signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam, who has pledged to pass new gun laws since the Virginia Beach mass shooting last year.