The majority-Democrat state Senate passed legislation that would restrict monthly gun purchases, expand background checks on firearms, and allow localities to ban guns in certain designated areas.
Senate Bill 69 amends Virginia law to restrict citizens’ ability to purchase more than one handgun per month, Senate Bill 70 requires mandatory background checks for all private sales of guns, and Senate Bill 35 requires localities to ban guns at public events.
Although Democratic Sen. John Edwards struck the assembly’s most controversial legislation, Senate Bill 16, which would have prohibited the sale, possession, or transfer of an assault rifle, many Republicans believe the House of Delegates will pass the similarly worded House Bill 961, which bans the purchase or possession of assault rifles in Virginia.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is probably the first assault on the Second Amendment, and we’re going to see many after that,” Republican state Sen. Bill Stanley said.
The issue of gun control in Virginia is playing out along demographic lines as urban voters demand action on gun violence while rural Virginians believe their second amendment rights are being infringed upon. More than 100 Virginia counties passed Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions after Democrats gained a majority in the General Assembly in November.
Northam, recovering from the blackface scandal last spring, has made gun reform a top priority during this session after he attempted to call an emergency session this summer when a man killed 12 people in Virginia Beach.
Northam passed an emergency rule this week barring firearms on state Capitol grounds, as tens of thousands of gun rights activists are expected to rally outside the General Assembly as part of the Virginia Citizens Defense League pro-gun rally on Monday.