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Gun control legislation moves forward in Virginia Senate, faces tough odds in the House

CCalifornia Assault Weapons
Rich Pedroncelli
FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2013, file photo, a custom-made semi-automatic hunting rifle with a high-capacity detachable magazine is displayed.

Lawmakers in Richmond are not expected to pass any new legislation to crack down on gun violence this year. But, that doesn't mean they won't try.

Senator Adam Ebbin is a Democrat from Alexandria who says assault-style weapons are not needed in public places. So, he introduced a bill to keep them off public streets and out of public parks.

"During the 10-year federal assault weapon ban period, both the number of gun massacres and the number of people dying of gun massacres decreased significantly compared to the 10 years before the ban," explains Ebbin. "This is about open public carry of these weapons, which can be terrorizing for people on the street to see."

Republicans say they’re prepared to stop any kind of new restriction on guns that gets out of a Senate controlled by Democrats. One of the people testifying against the bill was Vincent Smith of Virginia Beach.

"Our Constitution's amendments weren’t created to protect target-shooting," Smith said. "If we can't protect this constitutional right, pretty soon we won't be able to speak our opinion outside our home or inside this chamber."

Ebbin's bill passed a Senate subcommittee with a party-line vote, although it'll probably have a more difficult time when it gets to a House of Delegates controlled by Republicans.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.