Virginia Dems Shoot Down Assault Weapons Bill

I am pleased to announce an affiliation with KerryDougherty.com published by former Virginian-Pilot columnist Kerry Dougherty. Kerry writes on a wide range of topics pertaining to politics and popular culture from a conservative perspective, and she has given us permission to re-post her commentary regarding the follies and foibles of Virginia here on Bacon’s Rebellion. — JAB

by Kerry Dougherty

After I wrote a piece last week revealing where Rep. Elaine Luria hid during the State of the Union address, one reader – we’ll call her Joan – left a comment on my Facebook page.

“Why don’t you ever write anything positive about Democrats?” she lamented.

“Like what, Joan?” I replied.

Crickets.

Well, Joan, this one’s for you. Turns out there are some anti-gun measures that even Virginia Democrats can’t stomach. As a result, I have something very positive to say about Creigh Deeds, John Edwards, Chap Petersen and Scott Surovell, the four Senate Democrats who boldly broke ranks with the anti-gun zealots running their party to vote against the so-called “assault weapons” bill.

This quartet joined Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee in voting to send HB961 to the State Crime Commission for further study, killing it for this session. Deeds reportedly said he was not satisfied with the definition of an assault weapon contained in the bill.

Neither are a lot of us.

This is a blow to Gov. Ralph Northam and the politicians bankrolled by Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun PACs who gained a majority in both chambers of the General Assembly.

Apparently Bloomberg doesn’t own every Democrat in Virginia.

Yet.

The Senate version of this bill actually called for the confiscation of AR-15s and similar weapons from lawful owners. That would set up a potentially dangerous situation in the commonwealth, especially with 110 cities, counties and towns passing Second Amendment resolutions and law enforcement in some of these jurisdictions vowing not to cooperate with draconian gun laws.

That bill was withdrawn. In its current form the proposed law bans the sale or transfer of these popular weapons, but grandfathers in current owners.

HB961 would also make it a crime to own large-capacity magazines – more than 12 rounds – suppressors or trigger activators. Those who legally own these items now would be required to surrender them, destroy them or get them out of the state within a year.

In other words, the bill would turn law-abiding gun owners into criminals.

Earlier in the session Democrats showed that they were not serious about reducing the cause of gun violence. When presented with a number of measures that would have increased mandatory prison sentences for criminals who use firearms, they killed those bills. Instead, they focused on limiting the rights of law-abiding Virginians.

At least one of those measures is dead – for now – thanks to four independent Democrats.

This column was published originally at www.kerrydougherty.com.

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39 responses to “Virginia Dems Shoot Down Assault Weapons Bill

  1. OK Kerry. Tell us about the grand accomplishments and character of Republicans in Virginia.

    Maybe the voters are tired of zealots (your word) like McDonnell, Cuccinelli, Cox, Stewart and so on.

  2. Should we view Mr. Dougherty as an objective person who looks at both sides of issues and ruminates pros and cons or is he another partisan person who primarily writes from a partisan perspective?

  3. She is a partisan. People seem to like what she writes and I never could understand that. I guess her audience is the Republican base.

  4. Deeds, Chap, and the rest were smart to seek political cover. Poorly written bill with a strong backlash against it. Tabling the bill and getting better cards for next year is the smart move. The last thing Democrats want to do is lose their grip on state politics. As for the Republicans I see less able leadership than ever before. When round two begins in next years session it will take populism of an angry electorate to win. The Republicans just don’t seem to have any horses in the stable.

    • I agree that more discussion was needed about the bill and passing it as-is would have been short-sighted.

      But doesn’t this essentially prove the Dems are not as “extreme” as the GOP and correspondents in BR were blathering in “the sky is falling” style?

      This is not the only bill that has been moderated from it’s initial proposal either.

      • ALL Dems are not as extreme, I’ll certainly grant that point. A few other things may moderate before they go to the Governor…I have high hopes the Senate will kill that employeer “bias hunting” bill. But the overall change is clear, and a common conversation is comparing this new crowd to the Democrats who were in charge 20 years ago.

  5. Must agree that confiscation of legally bought and used weapons isn’t right. The world has something like 8 million ar15s. Am in full agreement with future requirements for fewer round magazines. I have shot fully automatic — at a military range in Russia. Even had a silencer. But it was official for a story. Just fyi

  6. And then there is the Washington Post. It’s not partisan at all. But the lefties respect free speech and freedom of the press only when it comes from the left.

    Bloomberg wants to disarm Americans as he maintains his armed body guards. If we restrict access to firearms, hiring an armed body guard, absent permission from a court based on clear and convincing evidence of death threats, should be a felony with a mandatory ten-year sentence. As my mother constantly reminded me to my chagrin – Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

  7. Glad to have Kerry on board. I have read her pieces in the Virginian-Pilot. I don’t always agree, but she is a good writer. It’s OK if she is partisan; many on this blog are partisan. Just so she backs up her partisanship with reasoned arguments.

    Speaking of reasoned arguments, can anyone, her or anyone else, give me a rational justification for private ownership of AR-15s?

    Secondly, it would be helpful to look at the bills that she complained about Democrats killing, showing they “were not serious reducing the cause of gun violence.” Almost all of those bills increased existing, or created new, provisions that require a mandatory minimum sentence. There has long been a debate over the use of mandatory minimum sentences because they limit a judge’s discretion. Judges are in the best position to know what sort of sentence to impose in individual cases. Since the General Assembly elects the judges, the argument goes, it should be willing to allow those judges to do their jobs, rather than dictating what sentence to impose. Governor Northam has signaled that he will veto any new mandatory minimum bills and Democrats generally oppose them. Therefore, the opposition to the bills cited by Ms. Kerry had to do with mandatory minimums, guns or not.
    Furthermore, two of the bills carried a significant Woodrum fiscal impact, $2.8 million for one and $3.6 million for another.
    Finally, there is scant evidence that increasing mandatory minimums would have any effect on violent crime.

    But Ms. Kerry ignores all that and slams Democrats for opposing bills, although there were rational reasons for opposing them, outside of the gun debate, and had no relationship to their seriousness about controlling gun violence.

    • “Speaking of reasoned arguments, can anyone, her or anyone else, give me a rational justification for private ownership of AR-15s?”

      The Second Amendment. It was intended to protect citizens from their own government. This the founders well understood having to free themselves from a government’s boot.

      Only guns that killed other men freed our founders and kept them and their families safe in their daily living. They lived in the real world, so knew how important the second amendment was. Likely soon we will too.

  8. The basic problem I have is that the premise seems to be that any/all ARMS are a Constitutional right. If it is an ARM – it’s a 2nd amendment right.

    But that’s simply not true. You cannot own ANY “arm” that you want.

    And that’s because in the REAL WORLD – we DO RESTRICT what arms people can own.

    it’s not an illegitimate concept.

    We used to ban Assault weapons not that long ago and then we got rid of the ban – and now the argument is that owning them is a 2nd amendment “right” as if they never had been banned or if they had, it was wrong to ban them.

    We STILL effectively ban automatic weapons. Sure, in theory, you can buy one, but the restrictions are pretty severe and an obvious question is – if we have restrictions on automatic weapons, is that also “unconstitutional”?

    With respect to Ms. Kerry. Partisan stuff is not constructive – all it does is further inflame and divide. It’s not about understanding each other and trying to find common ground. It’s warfare plain and simple.

    Some folks think that way -a lot more than used to – but it leads to no good outcomes – just more hate and division.

    We all have that impulse inside of us. It’s a devil we have to deal with. Sometimes we fail but when we are that way ALL THE TIME – tha’s more than a occasional fail – it’s a lifestyle choice and I do truly regret folks like that.

  9. “Speaking of reasoned arguments, can anyone, her or anyone else, give me a rational justification for private ownership of AR-15s?”

    Whether you realize it or not, you have asked for a “rational justification” for private ownership of a particular model of semi-automatic rifle based solely on its appearance and extraneous features. It’s sort of like asking for a rational justification for ownership of a Pontiac Aztec – it’s neither possible nor necessary to provide a rational justification for such a choice because such decisions are a matter of individual preference, budget and personal taste – and there is no accounting for taste (hence the Pontiac Aztec). 😉

    In much the same way that the basic functionality of a Pontiac Aztec is no different from other automobiles, the basic functionality of the AR-15 is no different from that of any other semi-automatic rifle. The AR-15 fires one round each time its trigger is pulled, and a semi-automatic hunting rifle with a walnut stock fires one round each time its trigger is pulled.

    Among the various models of semi-automatic rifles there are plenty of options for cosmetic differences, added features and different specific mechanisms by which the semi-automatic function is achieved (gas operated, recoil operated, blowback activated, etc.) but the basic functionality is the same.

    • You are correct about that to a degree. The AR is also made to be configurable/modifyable including things like high capacity magazines and bump stocks and the like. Many other sem-auto guns are not.

      • A high capacity magazine can be made for any semi-auto weapon configured for removable magazines.

        Also, there is nothing special about the AR-15 which makes a “bump-stock” on as AR-15 work any better than a bump-stock on any other semi-auto rifle. The only thing a “bump-stock” does is increase the speed at which the trigger cycles – and that can be accomplished with a simple rubber band.

        I will agree that a lot of optional gear is available for the AR-15 platform, but that is a function of its popularity – and banning something because a lot of people have it or want it is as silly and irrational as blaming inanimate objects for societal ills.

        I stand by my original statement: the only significant difference between the AR and other semi-autos is their physical appearance.

        • re: ” A high capacity magazine can be made for any semi-auto weapon configured for removable magazines.”

          yes. But are most non-AR semi-autos configured for removable magazines?

          I AGREE that banning something because of it’s “looks” is dumb but I’m not yet convinced that the AR is like any other plane jane semi-auto.

          and bump-stocks – no matter what guns they work for – or not – the intent of them is to make a sem-auto fire like an auto – no? What other use does a bump stock have?

          • Most? Perhaps not. Many? Absolutely – both historical and modern.

            As far as bump-stocks go, they are effective at increasing the rate of fire of a semi-automatic weapon, but like I said earlier, so is a rubber band.

            With that said, though, no matter what you may have read in anti-gun media accounts or seen on tv , bump-stocks do not “make a semi-auto fire like an auto”, because no matter how fast the trigger gets pulled, it MUST still be cycled once for each round fired.

            And, of course, there is the issue of accuracy, or lack thereof. The faster the rate of fire, the more difficult a weapon is to aim and keep on target.

            I personally do not understand the appeal of “bump-stocks” – but unlike some people I do not see my lack of need, interest or desire to own one sufficient reason to justify banning them.

    • I should have been more specific. I should have said “justification for private ownership of a semi-automatic weapon.” I was using AR-15 in a generic sense.

      • Obama was by far the most authoritarian president since FDR and Woodrow Wilson. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will have us in chains out in some American version of Siberia. Only God knows what AOC and her tribe of moronic leftists will contrive.

        • Dershowitz: ‘Obama personally asked the FBI to investigate somebody on behalf of George Soros.’

          As President Trump faces ongoing criticism for allegedly interfering in the Roger Stone case — and Attorney General William Barr confronts more calls for his resignation for his handling of the case — Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz says he has proof that former President Obama “personally asked” the FBI to investigate someone “on behalf of George Soros,” the liberal billionaire megadonor.

          “There was a lot of White House control of the Justice Department during the Kennedy administration and I don’t think we saw very many liberal professors arguing against that,” Dershowitz said in an interview with Breitbart News that aired Sunday on SiriusXM. “I have some information as well about the Obama administration – which will be disclosed in a lawsuit at some point, but I’m not prepared to disclose it now – about how President Obama personally asked the FBI to investigate somebody on behalf of George Soros, who was a close ally of his.”

          Dershowitz did not say specifically who the target might have been. His claim comes as Barr, who has maintained that Trump never personally intervened in a criminal matter, has been hit by a letter reportedly signed by more than 2,000 former DOJ officials organized by a leftwing group demanding his resignation. In recent days, Barr has openly asked President Trump to stop tweeting about ongoing Justice Department matters, saying it made it “impossible” to do his job.

          This from Fox News today.

          • Fox News? Dershowitz? The only sources reporting this are Brietbart, Washington Times, Newsmax, Townhall. The usual echo chamber.

            And you call leftists moronic.

      • Self defense. A semiautomatic weapon is more efficient than a manually cycled weapon and is therefore far more useful and desirable for self defense uses, particularly against multiple attackers.

        Not everyone is as adept as The Rifleman at cycling a lever action rifle.

  10. re: dividing line between auto and semi-auto

    it’s more than that –

    it’s about a weapon that can kill dozens in a few minutes and I caught the reference to wanting to be able to defend oneself in a home invasion with an unrelenting hail of bullets!

    Failing that, what would you need a humongo magazine for?

    I realize that if the magazines are cut down to a “reasonable” number like 10 or so that one can just carry a few “extras” just in case there are dozens involved in that home invasion but.. seriously…

    no – the entire point of semi verses auto is about the deadliness of the weapon.

    that’s why there is absolutely no question about RPGs… only the more extreme wacadoodles will be arguing that their 2nd amendment “rights” means they should be able to own RPGs.

    And can we imagine if that was the case – what one of those wackadoodles would do with an RPG in a church or in a stadium or other public place with hundreds, thousands of people.

    So I ask the 2nd amendment rights folks – are restrictions on RPGs an unconstitutional restriction of your 2nd amendment rights?

  11. The dividing line in this discussion would appear to be the difference between semi automatic and fully automatic. We restrict fully automatic. That is constitutional. We also restrict private ownership of bazookas and RPG’s. Since the government in any case will always be the proud possessors of superior firepower (bazookas, howitzers, flamethrowers, RPG’s), I guess I’m not too worried if the line is drawn between semi automatic and automatic.

    I guess I’m also not too worried if bump stocks are outlawed. They seem only useful to people on eighth floors of hotels. Like a fully automatic weapon, they make firing indiscriminate. On the battlefield, a fully automatic is used to keep the enemy’s head down, not necessarily to hit any particular individual, though they were frighteningly effective at Normandy against large numbers of exposed allied forces. Anyway, let’s distinguish between the automatic and the semi automatic.

    A semiautomatic can be controlled, and targets reacquired after any single shot, unlike a fully automatic weapon. Therefore, I’m probably ok being restricted to a semi automatic as far as my 2nd amendment rights are concerned. My likely opponent is the single home invader rather than the government .

    But I don’t want magazines limited in size for either rifles or handguns. I have never owned a gun other than my father’s Remington .22 short Gallery Special, which was used in shooting galleries and by trick artists like Annie Oakley (it’s basically a pea shooter). Recently, I have arrived at the conclusion that I may soon need a real weapon, because the idiots in government are taking us to where weapons are only ok for criminals, against whom I’d rather like to be able to defend myself. So over the weekend I sought advice from my lutier in Texas, who owns some 14 different weapons. He likes the 13 round Glock for the simple reason that he can fire seven rounds at the home invader, then say “Oh, shit” (as in, “I’m out of ammo”), draw his opponent out from behind cover, and have six rounds left to defend himself effectively. To me, that is a “reasoned argument” for not restricting magazine sizes, although I will concede that reasonable folks may disagree and I’m willing to listen.

    • For me – the dividing line is how deadly is the weapon in it’s ability to kill a whole bunch of people, kids, church-goers, etc… in a short amount of time.

      An RPG can do the trick for hundreds in a nano-second and some folks actually do believe that the intent of the 2nd amendment is to give citizens some level of arms “parity” so that they actually could battle a despotic govt – Red Dawn style and it sure as hell would put the kibosh on would-be home invaders!

      So the ying and yang is the more potent a weapon you give home defenders, the more potent a weapon you also give to the wakadoodles combined with the notion that a legal gun owners are law-abiding folk by definition.

      • What is your obsession with RPGs? The law which was just killed [for now] has NOTHING to do with RPGs.

        And RPGs are not in common use, anyway – AR-15s are.

        • I don’t have an obsession with RPGs but use it as an example of a deadly weapon that can harm and kill a great number of people and that is why it is not available to the general public even though it too is also ARMS.

          The point being that we already restrict weapons despite the “right to bear arms” – and we restrict based on the deadly nature of the weapon – no matter what we call it by name.

          I do NOT think a semi-auto is as deadly as an auto much less an RPG but I think a semi-auto that is modified to be more deadly than a basic AR and more akin to an auto weapon is making a more deadly weapon available than the basic model if it means it becomes a weapon that does much more than personal protection and becomes capable of mass killings.

          I have not worded this very elegantly but the gist is that we already restrict weapons right now and the basis for doing so is their ability to kill a lot of people in a short amount of time – and that criteria is reasonable and should apply to any weapon that has that capability whether it be a full auto or an RPG or a semi-auto modified such that it becomes a killing machine.

          The premise that the founding fathers INTENDED for citizens to be able to possess weaponry that would be the equivalent of what the govt had – i.e. to have “arms” parity so that they could effectively take over a govt if they deemed it despotic – if that every was their intention – is that what we want right now? Do we want citizens to be able to own full auto weapons, RPGs, and the myriad other deadly weapons that our govt possesses right now – as a counter balance for citizens to be able to rebut govt?

          That’s the question. What’s the answer?

          • The answer is – citizens are ALREADY restricted from owning RPGs and from [readily and easily] owning fully automatic weapons. And, since no one has put forth proposed legislation to make these things more easily obtainable your “question” about what “we” want is irrelevant. It has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

            And by the way, the supreme court has never ruled that “whatever the military has” may be owned by individuals; it has ruled that individual ownership of “weapons in common use” is protected by the 2nd Amendment . And no one can make a rational argument that semi-automatic rifles are not in common use. In the United States there are more than 8 million semi-automatic rifles in private hands..

            So, now I have a couple of questions for you:

            1) Why do you keep asking irrelevant questions and bringing up irrelevant issues when discussing your gun-grabbing friends’ attempts to ban a class of weapons based on its physical appearance?

            2) Please explain how each of the following items make a particular semi-automatic rifle “more deadly”:

            Folding or telescoping stock
            Pistol grip
            Hand-grip for non-trigger hand
            Grenade launcher (esp. in light of the fact that grenades are not available to the general public)
            Flare launcher
            Silencer – and Unicorn (see “silencer”)
            Flash suppressor
            Muzzle brake
            Muzzle compensator
            Threaded barrel

      • unfortunately, you have not responded to my position. Isn’t your dividing line essentially the same as mine?

    • “Recently, I have arrived at the conclusion that I may soon need a real weapon, because the idiots in government are taking us to where weapons are only ok for criminals, against whom I’d rather like to be able to defend myself. So over the weekend I sought advice from my lutier in Texas, who owns some 14 different weapons. He likes the 13 round Glock for the simple reason that he can fire seven rounds at the home invader, then say “Oh, shit” (as in, “I’m out of ammo”), draw his opponent out from behind cover, and have six rounds left to defend himself effectively. To me, that is a “reasoned argument” for not restricting magazine sizes, although I will concede that reasonable folks may disagree and I’m willing to listen.”

      A well reasoned and argued position grounded in the real world. But the clowns will never agree. They want you, the law abiding citizen, neutered altogether, Crazy, when they come for your house, family and your liberty.

  12. There is no doubt that a significant portion of the Democratic Party supports criminals over ordinary citizens just as many support illegal immigrants over citizens.

    The release-older-prisoners bill would have allowed former Nazi prison guards Oskar Groening, John Demjanjuk and Jakiw Palij (and others), who murdered thousands of Jews and others, to be released from prison had they been incarcerated in Virginia instead of in Germany.

    We had to provide detailed financial statements to the federal government to prove we could support our kids before they were permitted to emigrate from Korea. So does every other parent. But the Democrats want to allow adults to come here and use welfare benefits? Why do Democrats want to treat immigrants better than Americans?

    Why should a constitutional right that is clearly in the Constitution (as opposed to rights found in penumbras and emanations of the Constitution) be limited to bolt action technology? Applying the logic of ban the new technology, why not stop technology at barrel-loading muskets or flintlocks or even matchlocks?

    Moreover, some of these weapons came to the civilian market years before they reached the military market. The AR-15, for example.

    And, Larry, the security guy with his semi-automatic saved lots of lives in the Fort Worth area church.

    Why doesn’t the Governor want to have those people involved in illegal gun sales arrested and prosecuted? Is it too hard or is it inconsistent with his pro-criminal philosophy?

    • What TMT describes is a society in free fall. And most of us are so blind and unaware, we have not a clue. Just talk, talk, talk, justifying madness.

    • re: ” And, Larry, the security guy with his semi-automatic saved lots of lives in the Fort Worth area church.”

      he did indeed. And next time, the guy in the pews may just as easily be a wacko and kill more – even if he is killed. Is that where we are? Wackos running around killing people and a good guy with a gun kills him?

      “Why doesn’t the Governor want to have those people involved in illegal gun sales arrested and prosecuted? Is it too hard or is it inconsistent with his pro-criminal philosophy?”

      How can he do that if people are buying dozens of guns in a day or so then selling them to another guy who takes them to New York and sell them?

      how do you stop that once they get the guns?

      • ” Is that where we are? Wackos running around killing people and a good guy with a gun kills him?”

        Thank you for admitting that it is “wackos” who are the problem, not inanimate objects.

    • Bring back Project Exile!

  13. “How can he do that if people are buying dozens of guns in a day or so then selling them to another guy who takes them to New York and sell them?”

    It is already illegal under both Virginia and New York laws for someone to purchase dozens of guns in a day and then sell them to some guy who takes them to New York.

    We do not need a new law to arrest and prosecute people for that activity.

  14. re: ” The answer is – citizens are ALREADY restricted from owning RPGs and from [readily and easily] owning fully automatic weapons. And, since no one has put forth proposed legislation to make these things more easily obtainable your “question” about what “we” want is irrelevant. It has nothing to do with the issue at hand.”

    No. It’s about what criteria we use to “restrict” – ANY weapon or not. What is that criteria? What makes a semi-auto “ok” but an auto not?

    “And by the way, the supreme court has never ruled that “whatever the military has” may be owned by individuals; it has ruled that individual ownership of “weapons in common use” is protected by the 2nd Amendment . And no one can make a rational argument that semi-automatic rifles are not in common use. In the United States there are more than 8 million semi-automatic rifles in private hands..”

    T

    So, now I have a couple of questions for you:

    1) Why do you keep asking irrelevant questions and bringing up irrelevant issues when discussing your gun-grabbing friends’ attempts to ban a class of weapons based on its physical appearance?”

    The argument has been that this is not the purview of the SCOTUS because it’s a Constitutionally-given right that cannot be litigated. Right?

    “2) Please explain how each of the following items make a particular semi-automatic rifle “more deadly”:

    Folding or telescoping stock
    Pistol grip
    Hand-grip for non-trigger hand
    Grenade launcher (esp. in light of the fact that grenades are not available to the general public)
    Flare launcher
    Silencer – and Unicorn (see “silencer”)
    Flash suppressor
    Muzzle brake
    Muzzle compensator
    Threaded barrel”

    I NEVER said any or all.. I asked which ones make the weapon more deadly AND I ask if such things that do make a weapon more deadly – like full auto are restricted and if they are restricted, is that “unconstitutional”?

    what weapons can be restricted and still be Constitutional?

    It’s not irrelevant at all.. it’s a key issue, perhaps one the gun right folks don’t want to address.

    If I can restrict a full auto weapon, why can’t I restrict a semi-auto that has been customized to be almost as deadly as a full auto?
    Who decides that and on what basis?

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