Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s gun, magazine, suppressor, and trigger activator ban is scheduled to be heard in the state senate’s Judiciary Committee next Monday morning, and it will likely be the best opportunity to kill the bill before it can get to Northam’s desk.
HB961 narrowly passed out of the Virginia House of Delegates a few days ago, but the bigger hurdle for the bill was always going to be in the state Senate. Four Democrats in that chamber have expressed their opposition to the bill in its original form, though only Sen. Lynwood Lewis has flat out stated he won’t vote for any bill that bans guns or magazines.
Lewis isn’t on the Judiciary Committee, but the other three senators who’ve expressed reservations (Chap Petersen, Creigh Deeds, and John Edwards) all happen to be assigned to the committee that will hear the bill Monday morning. In fact, Sen. Edwards is actually the committee chairman. How those three Democrats vote on Monday will determine whether the bill not only passes out of committee, but the full Senate as well. Bearing Arms
Under current law, it’s a misdemeanor offense to “recklessly” leave a loaded, unsecured gun accessible to a child under 14. As drafted, Senate Bill 581, introduced by Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, would have raised the age to 18 and made violations a felony offense.
Opponents have warned the bill could have ramifications for teen hunting in rural areas where handling guns at an early age is more common and give prosecutors more leeway to charge parents after gun-related accidents.
“When my son was 16 he came home from school and thanks to having access to a firearm was able to interrupt wild dogs attacking our livestock,” said Will Shaw of Louisa County. “Under this law, I’d be risking a year behind bars for allowing him that access.”
Sens. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City, and Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, voted with six Republicans to prevent the bill’s passage. If they hold strong on their votes, the bill will not pass on Monday.
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.
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