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Virginia is going to be interesting to watch in 2020 as the gun debate will heat up there at the start of the year.

Use Your Words

Release Date: 12/30/2019

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2020 is going to be an interesting year - we got elections going on in November, the Senate impeachment trial early in the year (if Pelosi ever hands over the articles of impeachment to the senate - but that is not for here right now), and Virginia becoming an interesting place to watch as 2020 starts up. If you have not been following along with what has been going out there - the quick and dirty of it is that Ralph Northam (the governor of Virginia) has been pushing for new gun control legislation - and with the flipping of the statehouse and senate from republican to democrat, he reintroduced this legislation - knowing that more than likely everything he wanted would get passed. Well, it passed and has created a lot of repercussions in the state. As of December 19th, there are 94 cities/counties that have passed local resolutions declaring themselves 2nd amendment sanctuaries. Those on the extreme side will say "these locations are not going to uphold the law" - but in honestly they are just being hyperbolic. These locations will need to uphold the law - for the most part, these resolutions are nothing more than political statements. This is according to Richard Schragger, a professor at the University of Virginia School of law. He was interviewed in an article for USA Today regarding what is going on in Virginia. He further commented: "In Virginia, state law supersedes local law. Citizens and local officials have to comply with state law even if a county declares itself to be a Second Amendment sanctuary," - in other words in Virginia local law is overridden by state law and because of that if all of these laws are signed into law then these laws technically would need to be followed. But what is fact and what is fiction about what is in these laws?

One of the biggest reasons that the second amendment sanctuary cities have been popping up is due to the language in one of the laws introduced into the legislation regarding gun ownership. The law as written goes after people who currently own weapons - not just the purchase, transfer, sale of firearms.

Now let me state this upfront:

As of today (December 28th, 2019) these facts are what they are. Things may change quickly - and soon - but as of now this is how things stand. All data is linked in the notes - including the text of the law that is being proposed.

So what does the law actually say? Well if we take a look at it, it currently states:

It s unlawful for any person to import, sell, transfer, manufacture, purchase, possess, or transport an assault firearm. A violation of this section is punishable as a  ****Class 6 felony.

This information can be found on lines 433 - 437 of the bill. What I find interesting is that on line 433 they remove the word posses but then reintroduce the same word on line 436 - not sure why they did it that way but regardless the bill as it currently stands states that possession of an assault weapon is prohibited in Virginia.

We keep hearing about how bad assault weapons are but what exactly is an assault weapon? Well, that definition really depends on who you ask. If you ask the army - there are assault rifles not assault weapons - and for a rifle to be considered an assault rifle it meets all of the following conditions: It has selective fire, It must have an intermediate-power cartridge: more power than a pistol but less than a standard rifle or battle rifle, Its ammunition must be supplied from a detachable box magazine, and It must have an effective range of at least 300 meters (330 yards). An assault weapon, on the other hand, is essentially only a politically created terminology to try to simplify the categorization of guns in-laws. In the case of Virginia - how they describe an assault weapon is interesting, to say the least. Here are some of the highlights of what this Virginia law considers an assault weapon - and all of this information can be found in the Virginia law starting on line 398:

A semi-automatic center-fire rifle that shoots single or multiple projectiles with a fixed magazine capacity in excess of 10 rounds

A semi-automatic center-fire rifle that shoots single or multiple projectiles that can accept a detachable magazine(of any size) and has any of the following: folding/telescoping stock, a pistol grip, a thumbhole stock, a second handgrip, a bayonet mount, a grenade launcher, a flare launcher, a silencer, a flash suppressor, a muzzle brake, a muzzle compensator, a threaded barrel that can accept a silencer, flash suppressor, a muzzle brake, or muzzle compensator

A semi-automatic pistol that can fire single or multiple projectiles with a fixed magazine capacity in excess of 10 rounds

A semi-automatic pistol that can fire single or multiple projectiles that can accept a detachable magazine and has any of the following things from the semi-automatic centerfire rifle.

Shotgun with a revolving cylinder

A semi-automatic shotgun that shoots single of multiple projectiles and has any of the following characteristics: accepts a detachable magazine, a fixed magazine in excess of 7 rounds, has a pistol grip, a folding or telescoping stock, a thumbhole stock,

Again - this is what is in the law as of 12/28/2019 - and various people have been upset in Virginia because of these new proposed restrictions. But there is a whole other side to this as well - the economic impact of local communities. Andrew Gilliam, a gun store owner, gave an interview to a local news station and stated:

"That's what's going to get people a little bit upset because, in that bill, it says possession of these firearms and that could turn a lot of Virginians into felons overnight," he then continued "Without fully understanding what an assault firearm is, this takes away 80% of my retail," Gilliam said. "The other 20% of my retail can be bought on Amazon." "You start losing mom and pop stores and people won’t have anywhere they can go do background checks and transfers," Gilliam said. "They won't be able to transfer any weapons. It's gonna create some serious problems there. There's kind of a big ripple effect with some of these bills."

Now I will say this - some of the representatives who support this legislation are stating hyperbole to sell their support on the bill. For example Ken Plum gave the following statement to a news station: "Citizens possessing what is essentially a machine gun -- you can call it a high capacity rifle, or whatever, it's essentially a machine gun --is not necessary, nor is it desirable in a civilized society, and nor is it necessary for public safety," Plum said. These guns are not machine guns. Taking a look at the definition of machines guns produces the following information:

A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm designed to fire rifle cartridges in rapid succession from an ammunition belt or magazine. As a class of military rapid-fire guns, machine guns are fully automatic weapons designed to be used as support weapons and generally used when attached to a mount or fired from the ground on a bipod or tripod. Many machine guns also use belt feeding and open bolt operation features not normally found on rifles.

Since everything here being classified as an assault weapon does not even come close to being defined as a machine gun (for example even the much-hated AR-15 is a semi-automatic weapon which is one of the first criteria to be considered a machine gun) this (honestly) seems more like a political movement and less a movement based on facts.

 

  1. The actual law: https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+sum+SB16
  2. https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/politics/2020-virginia-legislative-files-bills-before-session-gun-safety/65-a7564f8b-4787-4804-ba85-359996fc8d0a
  3. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machine_gun
  4. https://www.wsls.com/news/local/2019/11/27/list-of-second-amendment-sanctuaries-in-virginia-and-where-its-being-discussed/
  5. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/12/11/2nd-amendment-sanctuary-virginia-counties-not-enforce-gun-laws/2610411001/
  6. https://freebeacon.com/issues/virginia-dems-cave-on-confiscation-as-2a-sanctuaries-expand/
  7. https://apnews.com/b83c6654e4a618aec1e88a2ca2eea07a
  8. https://budget.lis.virginia.gov/item/2020/1/hb30/introduced/1/402/
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assault_rifle
  10. https://flippable.org/our-targets/virginia/
  11. https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/06/politics/ralph-northam-democratic-control-virginia-gun-reform-cnntv/index.html
  12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selective_fire
  13. https://connectingvets.radio.com/articles/you-have-gun-debate-make-sure-your-terminology-correct