Debate over assault weapons isn't new in Virginia

California Assault Weapons
Posted at 2:47 PM, Jun 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-03 18:33:25-04

NORFOLK, Va. - During a prime-time address Thursday evening, President Joe Biden called on Congress to ban assault weapons and place limits on high-capacity magazines.

In Virginia, the debate over assault weapons has gone on for years. Shortly after taking complete control of the General Assembly in 2020, Democrats pushed a series of gun reforms, including a bill that would've banned the future sale of assault weapons.

The bill led to a massive rally at the state Capitol in January 2020.

The bill wound up failing in a Senate committee. On Friday, State Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) told News 3 she would support the bill being brought up again.

"I do support it. I think there is a way we can ban high-capacity weapons consistent with the Constitution, and I would support such a ban," she said.

With Republicans now in control of the House of Delegates and Gov. Glenn Youngkin in the governor's mansion, the prospect of the bill advancing in the General Assembly currently seems unlikely.

State Sen. Bill DeSteph (R-Va.) said the number one priority should be on addressing mental health.

"No sane individual goes and shoots anyone else," he said, adding he supports stiffer penalties for gun violence crimes.

On the federal level, Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) spoke with News 3 earlier this week about gun violence. She supports a ban on assault weapons, a spokesperson told News 3.

"I think there's a lot of work to be done to actually get some steps made," she said.

President Biden also said if Congress can't pass a bill to ban assault weapons the age to purchase them should be raised from 18 to 21.

A local gun shop has already taken that step and doesn't sell assault-style weapons to people under 21 unless they're active duty military.

Related: Advocate, Portsmouth official highlight Virginia’s red flag gun law following Texas school shooting