Some Senate Democrats Block Assault Weapons Ban

Feb 17, 2020


A demonstrator stands outside a court house during a pro-gun rally, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Richmond, Va.
Credit Julio Cortez / AP


A controversial proposal to ban assault style weapons looks like it will not pass the legislature this year. The bill was a key part of Governor Ralph Northam’s gun control agenda. 


Four Democratic Senators sided with Republicans in a committee vote against the proposal Monday morning, effectively ending its chances of becoming law this session. 

Senator Creigh Deeds of Charlottesville was one of the Democrats who opted to push the measure off for a year with further study. He says it was too broad. 

“There’s no question that there’s really no purpose in having an assault style weapon. They are weapons of war,” Deeds said after the vote. “But the way this bill was drafted I was afraid that you’d catch up handguns and regular rifles, hunting rifles or rifles that people have to protect their property.” 

The bill banned high-capacity magazines and the future sale of assault style weapons. It had already passed in the House. Democrat Mark Levine was the sponsor. 

“I’m disappointed,” he said. “I fear there’s going to be a mass murder between now and the next year. Possibly more than one. And I feel like we could have saved some lives.” 

According to his spokeswoman the Governor is also disappointed, but proud of the other gun control measures that have been met with success - including universal background checks and a red flag law.  


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