The Virginia House of Delegates has passed House Bill 2, which would ban the sale, procession, or transfer of semi-automatic firearms within the Commonwealth by a party-line vote of 51 to 49. The proposal will now head to the Democrat-controlled Senate to be considered for passage.
The bill does have exceptions for antique firearms, guns that have been rendered permanently inoperable, firearms that are manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action, or if the firearm was manufactured before July 1, 2024. Anyone violating the proposed law will be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Anyone under the age of 21 will be prohibited from importing, selling, manufacturing, purchasing, possessing, transporting, or transferring any covered by the bill, regardless of when the firearm is manufactured.
Many in the Commonwealth question if the bill violates the United States and Virginia State Constitution. There have been multiple cases around the country challenging so-called “assault weapons” bans since the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision. Many courts have found the laws to run against the Second Amendment. These cases seem destined to reach SCOTUS.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Delegate Dan Helmer, believes the proposed law is constitutional. He claims he would never dare to bring forth an unconstitutional bill, but many in Virginia disagree with Del. Helmer.
“I have never brought forward a bill that would infringe on constitutional rights,” Helmer said. “You can’t practice any of our other rights if you are not safe in your community, in your home, and this bill simply ensures that we are.”
All Republicans in the Senate are expected to vote against the bill. Several Democrats in the Senate did help block a similar bill introduced by Democrats in 2020. It remains to be seen if any Democrats are willing to break from the party line and vote against the bill.
If the bill passes the Senate, it will go to Governor Glenn Youngkin’s desk to be signed into law. Youngkin is a Republican and is expected to veto the bill instead of signing it. There are not enough votes in the Virginia Legislature to override a veto by the Governor.
Phillip Van Cleave, President of Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), Virginia’s most influential state-level gun rights group, said he was not shocked by the bill’s passage by the House of Delegates but held out hope that if the Senate does pass it, Gov. Youngkin will act as a firewall and veto the bill.
“The Democrats in the General Assembly have declared war on law-abiding gun owners,” Van Cleave told AmmoLand News. “All these bills are passing on party-line votes. So, with the Democrats having a one vote majority, I’m not surprised at all that that bill passed. However, the bill still has to go to Governor Youngkin’s desk. If he vetoes it, the Democrats don’t have anywhere near enough votes to override it.”
If the bill does pass the Senate and is signed into law by the Governor, it will go into effect on July 1, 2024.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.