Virginia House Takes Aim At ‘Assault Weapons,” Large Magazines

( – “Assault weapons” would be outlawed in Virginia if a bill passed by House Democrats is signed into law. The bill also calls for magazines that have the ability to hold more than 12 rounds of ammunition to be confiscated.

The AR-15 is one of the weapons that would be outlawed, with new sales of the popular firearm banned. It would also punish people for possessing magazines capable of holding that many rounds with up to a year in prison, even if they were purchased legally.

The bill, called HB961, passed only narrowly in the Virginia House of Delegates by a 51-48 vote tally. Despite the Democrats holding control of both state legislature houses and the governorship with Ralph Northam, some in the party have even voiced their opposition to the measure — which would rank among the strictest in the U.S.

Mark Olivia, a spokesman for The National Shooting Sports Foundation, said the bill would affect “more than just your modern sporting rifles like the AR-15. It would affect the vast majority of handguns.”

That’s because a large number of today’s firearms come with magazines that hold in excess of 12 rounds. That’s why the foundation estimates the proposed bill could affect potentially millions of Virginia residents.

That National Rifle Association lobbied against the bill, accusing the Democratic Party in Virginia of being bought by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, a gun control activist and Democratic nominee for president.

NRA spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen said: “HB961 will turn law-abiding Virginians into criminals overnight. Under this bill, anyone who owns a standard capacity magazine must submit to mandatory confiscation or face one year in jail for each magazine they own. No law-abiding Virginian will be able to buy an AR-15 — America’s most popular all-purpose sporting rifle. After receiving money from Michael Bloomberg, House leaders have their hands out for more and clearly have no regard for the will of their constituents.”

If the bill were signed into law, residents of the state would have until January of next year to turn in their over-the-limit magazines. This part of the measure has been deemed “reasonable” by gun activist group The Brady Campaign, which said there are similar restrictions already in place in Hawaii, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

Spokesman Liam Sullivan commented on that aspect of the bill:

“Other states have implemented analogous laws with analogous pathways and timeframes for compliance. The timeframe included in this bill is a reasonable period to allow individuals in Virginia to comply with the law. We appreciate and support those compliance periods, after which stated and reasonable enforcement under the law will be left up to the appropriate authorities.”

Even though the bill passed through the Virginia House, it is expected to face potentially stiff opposition in the Virginia Senate. That chamber of the Virginia government, while still controlled by Democrats, has been a little more reluctant to pass some gun-control bills, including one that it shot down recently that would have made it illegal if someone didn’t report a lost or stolen gun within 24 hours of learning of it.