Calling the state Legislature into session last Wednesday, Gov. Ralph Northam could not have been more elated. His Democrats have taken over the state Legislature and are giddily preparing to exercise every ounce of their newfound powers.
Northam’s expansive legislative agenda includes passage of the long-dead Equal Rights Amendment (the deadline for ratification expired in 1982), decriminalization of marijuana, big spending on “save the planet” environmental nonsense, further liberalization of abortion laws, and, of course, far-reaching strict gun controls.
Today, the Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee will begin consideration of a host of gun-control bills. One week from today, groups such as the National Rifle Association and the Virginia Civilian Defense League are planning a mass demonstration against the bills. Northam and the Dems will try to make these protests moot by getting their legislation passed quickly.
Among the bills being considered are requirements for background checks on all firearms sales, red flag laws, a one-a-month limit on purchasing pistols, closing the “gun show loophole,” and bans on possession of firearms in state buildings and parks. And that’s not the half of it.
Last month, I wrote about SB 16, which had been filed by Sen. Dick Saslaw in preparation for the 2020 legislative session. SB 16 was the most radical of bills (at least at that point). As I explained it would outlaw the possession of all “assault weapons,” a class of rifles, pistols and shotguns which are among the most-purchased in the nation and have been employed for hunting, target shooting, and home defense. It was obviously unconstitutional.
At Northam’s urging, new bills — HB 961 is the prototype — were introduced. It is less obviously unconstitutional but more far-reaching (and in some ways worse) than its predecessors.
HB 961 retains the same definitions of “assault weapons” that SB 16 had. The definition includes every semi-automatic firearm:
(i) a folding or telescoping stock; (ii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the rifle; (iii) a thumbhole stock; (iv) a second handgrip or a protruding grip that can be held by the non-trigger hand; (v) a bayonet mount; (vi) a grenade launcher; (vii) a flare launcher; (viii) a silencer; (ix) a flash suppressor; (x) a muzzle brake; (xi) a muzzle compensator; (xii) a threaded barrel capable of accepting (a) a silencer, (b) a flash suppressor, (c) a muzzle brake, or (d) a muzzle compensator; or (xiii) any characteristic of like kind as enumerated in clauses (i) through (xii).
HB 916 also includes parts that can be used to build “assault weapons” and shotguns with revolving cylinder magazines.
The bill makes it illegal to manufacture or sell any “assault” firearms in the state. It also makes it legal to possess such weapons but only if they are registered with the state police, and only when they are possessed in your home, on your land, with a parent’s permission, or with written permission of the landowner.
It permits the use of such registered weapons while hunting or at a shooting range (or going to or from a such a venue if they are unloaded).
The bill also exempts members of the armed forces carrying out their duties.
The bill would make it legal until January 2021 for a person to possess such firearms so that they have time to either register and obtain a permit from the state police for them or move them out of the state.
Despite the fact that suppressors (the bill uses the term “silencers”) are legal if registered with the federal government, they are outlawed entirely.
Registration is, of course, a first step that is necessary to confiscation. But it is also a way the Dems are attempting to make HB 916 constitutional.
One part of SB 16 that didn’t — yet — make it into HB 961 is a total ban not on the weapons themselves, but on possessing, selling, or transferring any rifle, pistol, or shotgun magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds. We should expect that whatever bill or bills pass the state Legislature will contain the magazine ban.
At this writing, 90 of Virginia’s 95 counties, as well as dozens of cities, towns, and other jurisdictions, have declared themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries.” Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring insists that these declarations have no effect.
The declarations have, at least, one effect: they indicate the strong opposition to the new laws by a majority of Virginia’s citizens. That should be enough to persuade the state assembly to at least moderate the bills they are going to pass, but it won’t. Neither will the mass demonstrations against them, which are going to be held next Monday.
Thousands of Virginians are expected to attend the January 20 demonstrations, which are being sponsored by the National Rifle Association and the Virginia Civilian Defense League. The VCDL is busing people in from about 16 parts of the state and has organized a list of people who will speak to the demonstrators.
As much as the NRA and the VCDL want to have a peaceful demonstration, others may intend to cause violence that can be blamed on the otherwise-peaceful demonstrators.
The NRA’s and VCDL’s plans are well advertised and thus already known to groups such as “Antifa,” the fascist thugs who have attacked peaceful demonstrators across the country. For example, they attacked demonstrators in Portland, Oregon, last July causing a riot in which eight people were injured.
Antifa, and groups like them, can turn the best-laid plans for a peaceful demonstration on January 20 into a violent confrontation. They will carefully attempt to stage their own violence in a way that can be blamed on the pro-gun demonstrators.
If fighting breaks out — especially if there is gunfire — the media will eat it up, blaming the NRA and VCDL and blasting the story nationwide before the facts come out. If that happens — and the odds are very good that it will — the Dems in Richmond will claim it to be justification for all their gun-control bills. The bills will pass even more quickly than they would have otherwise, and Northam will happily sign them into law.
On Friday, I spoke to a very good friend who has a business training our police and armed services (even special operations troops) in the tactical use of firearms. He has a federal firearms license, and the weapons he uses in his business are, to the extent the law requires, already registered with the federal government. He pays the necessary fees on those weapons to retain the licenses and permits he has.
He believes that the restrictions the Richmond Dems plan to pass will override his federal permits and cause him to move his business and his family to another state.
The disarming of America continues. The Richmond Dems will do their best to emulate Chicago, New York City, California, and other jurisdictions that have so severely restricted their citizens’ Second Amendment rights that only police and criminals can easily get guns.
As I wrote last month, the courts are our only hope that the new laws will be tossed out as unconstitutional. I wouldn’t bet a nickel that they will be.