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‘Assault Weapons’ ban passes state House

Examples of some semi-automatic rifles. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
February 06, 2024

Virginia’s House of Delegates voted in favor of a ban on “assault weapons” Friday. Republican lawmakers have warned that the legislation, which would have to be approved by the Senate of Virginia and signed by Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin, would outlaw the “most commonly owned rifle in the United States” and would go against the U.S. Constitution.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the House of Delegates voted in favor of Virginia’s House Bill 2 51-49 along party lines. NBC 4 Washington reported that the legislation, introduced by Fairfax County Democratic Del. Dan Helmer, would ban both the sale and transfer of “assault weapons” manufactured after July 1, 2024, and would ban the sale of large capacity magazines.

According to a summary of House Bill 2, the legislation “creates a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person who imports, sells, manufactures, purchases, or transfers an assault firearm, as that term is defined in the bill.”

While Youngkin has not indicated whether he would veto House Bill 2 if it is approved in the state senate, legislators are anticipating that the Republican governor will veto the bill. During his State of the Commonwealth address in January, Youngkin encouraged Virginia lawmakers to concentrate on policies that enforce the law against criminals rather than policies that push more gun control on state residents.

“We should also know that Virginia’s gun laws are already among the toughest in the nation,” Youngkin said. “Therefore, I’m asking you: allow us to hold accountable those criminals that commit crimes with guns by lengthening and making more severe the penalties in order to keep them off the streets.”

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According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Senate of Virginia is expected to consider the gun control legislation this week. Helmer has argued that his gun control legislation would prevent violence by outlawing weapons similar to the ones he used when he served in the U.S. Army, saying, “We should not accept that the number one killer of children in our commonwealth is bullets.”

On the other hand, Del. Tim Griffin (R-Bedford) warned that the legislation being considered in Virginia is “probably unconstitutional.”

“We’re talking about the most commonly owned rifle in the United States,” Griffin warned. “These are used to protect property owners and to protect people who cannot protect themselves.”