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Virginia House Democrats pass strict gun control bill banning 'assault weapons,' high-capacity magazines


There was bipartisan opposition

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Virginia Democrats crammed an unpopular gun control bill through the state House on Tuesday that would ban so-called "assault weapons" and criminalize the possession of certain magazines.

The bill, known as HB 961, would ban new sales of semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15, while requiring current owners to register their firearm with the government by next year.

The bill would also outlaw the possession of magazines that hold more than 12 rounds of ammunition, and would require those who currently own such magazines to involuntarily surrender them to the government by Jan. 1, 2021.

Virginia House Democrats said in a statement after the bill's passage that the law "is intended to make Virginians safer every day," the Wall Street Journal reported. Meanwhile, Virginia Republicans said the bill's passage is yet another example of gross legislative overreach that encroaches on Second Amendment rights.

The bill passed 51-48, with all Republicans and a handful of Democrats opposing. The bill will now go to the Virginia state Senate for debate.

The fact that commonwealth Democrats opposed the bill's passage in the state House is welcomed news for Republicans. That is because Democrats hold a narrower margin (21-19) in the state Senate, where it would take just three Democratic defectors to kill the bill altogether.

When Democrats won control of the Virginia Legislature last year, they vowed an aggressive gun control push. However, overwhelmingly oppositionforced Democrats to temper their legislative agenda.

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