Virginia Senate committee will not move forward with controversial assault weapons bill

Posted at 9:29 AM, Feb 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-17 18:22:36-05

RICHMOND, Va. - The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-5 Monday to not move forward with a controversial bill that would've banned the future sale of assault weapons, as well as magazines capable of carrying more than 12 rounds.

The bill will be studied by the Crime Commission and can be reintroduced next year.

"We passed a lot of gun bills this year. There are obviously a lot of questions about the definitions in this bill and definitions do matter," said Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath County) as he proposed passing the bill by into 2021. Three other Democrats joined with him in voting to not advance the bill during this session.

Sen. Louise Lucas called her colleagues "wimps" for their votes.

Opponents of the bill packed the committee room and cheered when the bill was defeated for the year.

"This was a message that gun owners across the state stood up and said, 'We don't want this bill,'" said Philip Van Cleave, the President of the Citizen's Defense League.

The House of Delegates previously had passed the bill and it was backed by Gov. Northam.

The bill caused controversy when it was initially introduced and led to localities across the Commonwealth declaring themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries.

The bill was amended to let people keep assault weapons if they already own them, but would've banned the future sale of them.

Del. Mark Levine (D-Alexandria) vowed to reintroduce the bill next year.