It didn’t take long for Democrats, who took over both legislative chambers in Virginia in November and hold the governorship, to go after the guns — as they promised to do.
But Virginians are not happy with the Democrats’ efforts, and they’re taking action.
“Nearly 66,000 background checks were performed in Virginia in February as the state’s Democratic-controlled legislature weighs a number of strict background checks — a steep increase from the 40,381 checks performed in February 2019,” The Washington Free Beacon reported. “Virginia experienced one of the most dramatic upticks in background checks — a strong indicator of total sales — in the nation, according to data released by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).”
That data also showed gun sales were up nationwide by an average 16.7% — but the surge was highest in Virginia, where background checks rose by 63.4 percent compared to 2019.
Mark Oliva, an NSSF spokesman, told The Beacon that sales figures should send a clear message to lawmakers as they weigh potential restrictions.
“Virginians are continuing to exercise their freedoms and voting with their wallets,” he said. “They see that their elected representatives are infringing on their Second Amendment rights and they’re buying the firearms they want to provide for their own protection.”
Virginia lawmakers have been making a push to create new gun controls on residents, but it hasn’t always worked out. Last month, a Senate committee rejected a bill that was proposed by Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam that would make it a felony to “recklessly leave a loaded, unsecured firearm” in a way that endangers a minor.
“This bill will keep children safe from loaded, unsecured firearms. Like Gov. Northam’s other commonsense gun safety measures, it is something that everyone — including responsible gun owners — should support,” said Northam’s spokesman, Alena Yarmosky.
But two Democrats joined all Republicans on the committee to shoot down the bill. They cited concerns that law-abiding gun owners would be unfairly punished, Fox News reported.
Another measure that would ban so-called assault weapons like AR-15 rifles is also in danger of falling short. Some of Northam’s gun control measures have passed in the state’s Democratic-controlled General Assembly and lawmakers will hash out the differences between both chambers in the coming weeks.
Some of the bills include limiting handgun purchases to once a month; universal background checks on gun purchases; and a red flag bill that would allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from anyone deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others.
As Northam and Democrats have pushed gun control bills, thousands of gun-rights activists gathered in the state capital of Richmond in January. Northam declared a state of emergency days before the event, banning guns from the Capitol grounds.
Last month, lawmakers in the state Senate passed the first pair of bills in a wave of gun-control legislation that is set to come up for votes. One bill would restore the state’s previous one-handgun-a-month rule, while the second would allow local governments to ban guns in public buildings, parks and at permitted events — including political protests. The vote was straight party line, 21-19.