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Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam suffers embarrassing loss as assault weapons ban is rejected in Virginia

A huge win for the Second Amendment

Preston Ehrler / Echoes Wire / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam's all-in push to ban the sale of assault weapons was rejected in the state's Senate after moderate Democrats joined Republican colleagues to sink the initiative Monday.

Cheers erupted in the committee room packed with gun supporters as senators voted to put the bill on hold for a year so that the state's crime commission could study the issue, the Associated Press reported.

Four Democrats decided to vote with Republicans on the issue, rejecting legislation that aimed to outlaw new sales of some semiautomatic firearms, such as the AR-15 rifle, and require current owners of such firearms to register with the government within the year. The bill would also have criminalized the possession of magazines that hold more than 12 rounds.

The bill's rejection is an embarrassing loss for Northam and Democrats in Virginia, who aimed to use their narrow and new-found majority to push a broad progressive gun control agenda in the state.

Late last month, the state's Democrat-led House, with Northam's backing, moved forward a legislative package containing seven gun control measures, among them was the assault weapons ban which eventually passed the House last week. But the measures were always destined to face a tough test in the state's Senate, where Democrats only hold a slight 21-19 majority, and thus flipping three Democrats is all that is required to sink a bill.

In response to the news, the governor's spokeswoman vowed "we will be back next year" after sharing that the governor was disappointed by the outcome.

Overwhelming opposition from gun rights supporters have so far stymied efforts by Northam and Democratic lawmakers in the state.

In December, dozens of counties in Virginia vowed to become "sanctuary counties" for gun owners to protect their citizens' Second Amendment rights should any anti-gun laws be passed. One county went a step further, passing a resolution to fund a militia, per the U.S. Constitution, to fight the efforts.

To watch the cheers erupt from gun supporters in the committee following the vote, jump to the end of this video:

youtu.be

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to clarify that the Virginia House passed the assault weapons ban in February rather than late January, and also to include video of the committee's proceedings.

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