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.
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:
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.