As the Commonwealth of Virginia gears up for the 2023 legislative session one bill to watch is VA SB 1382 “Assault firearms and certain ammunition feeding devices; purchase, possession, etc., prohibited.” The bill is an “AMENDMENT IN THE NATURE OF A SUBSTITUTE” which was proposed by the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations on January 25, 2023. Specific language and current status can be found at https://legiscan.com/VA/text/SB1382/2023.
Similar bills to prohibit the sale and ownership of “assault “ weapons and high-capacity magazines have been introduced in the Virginia Legislature but for one reason or another have not been enacted. Under Governor Northam a similar bill came close to passage; however, after strong push back by concerned citizens and the Second Amendment march on Richmond in January 2020 several Democratic members of the legislature wisely voted against the measure.
The current bill is similar to others, however, there is one striking difference. Specifically, the bill states “An “assault firearm” does not include any firearm that is an antique firearm, has been rendered permanently inoperable, is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action, or was manufactured before July 1, 2023.” Thus, on face value initially any assault weapon manufactured before this date would be excluded from the ban or “grand fathered” once the measure is enacted.
As thousands of “assault weapons” are already owned by law abiding citizens what impact can/will this have on curbing gun violence. The short answer is none – most crimes are conducted with handguns not “assault rifles ” and thousands of legal assault rifles are already in circulation in the Commonwealth. If this is the case, then what is the intent and purpose of this grandfathered exemption ?
It does not take an astute political scientist to surmise that this revised language will make this legislation an easier sell to those moderate Democrats and perhaps some Republicans who would otherwise push back on an outright ban. In short, If this bill is passed other more strident measures perhaps leading to an outright ban are sure to follow and down the slippery slope, we go …
One of the bill’s sponsors Creigh Deeds prides himself on being endorsed by Gabby Giffords who has called for “banning the sale and manufacture of these uniquely dangerous weapons.” Her website is funded by the Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC. Giffords PAC claims to be bipartisan; however, this PAC has overwhelmingly supported Democrats and opposed Republicans in both endorsements and financial support. Even the left leaning PolitiFact has criticized the Giffords PAC for taking facts about gun policy out of context.
At the end of the day SB1382 is more than a piece of “feel good” legislation but rather the proverbial Trojan Horse dressed in sheep’s clothing with an ulterior motive, and we have seen this sleight of hand before across the nation. Yes, many of my Democratic friends have repeatedly told me they are not coming after my guns; I beg to differ, and SB 1383 is merely the start of a calculated strategy to infringe upon my Second Amendment rights. Caveat emptor!