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Virginia Dems, who are trying to make life harder for legal gun owners, squash GOP bill increasing punishments for using a gun during a crime

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Attacking law-abiding gun owners only

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

While Virginia Democratic lawmakers continue to advance legislation limiting the rights of legal gun owners in the state, they're also opposing Republican gun legislation — including a bill that would impose harsher sentencing minimums on those who use guns during the commission of a crime, according to Bearing Arms.

Virginia's House Public Safety Committee voted against House Bill 1175 on Tuesday. HB 1175 would send people who use or display guns while committing felonies to prison for longer amounts of time.

The bill would have established a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for the first offense (up from three), and a minimum of 10 years for the second or any subsequent offenses (up from five).

HB 1175 was one of 11 GOP-authored gun-related bills that were killed in committee this week. One bill sought to allow people injured in gun-free zones to file civil claims.

"This bill probably should be called the 'put your money where your mouth is,'" GOP Del. John McGuire said, according to WHSV-TV. "If you are in a gun-free zone, you should be able to hold the local government accountable for preventing you from doing anything in self-defense."

Another would have allowed for the carrying of guns in places of worship. Steve Birnbaum, a security team member at a local synagogue, said many places of worship don't want to be stuck waiting for law enforcement officials to arrive.

"There are some synagogues that don't even want paid security, because they don't like firearms, they don't always want off-duty officers, they don't want to pay for security, and that's their choice," Birnbaum said. "But there are synagogues that understand that law enforcement are not coming, and that they're on their own for 10 minutes, if not longer, especially in rural parts of the state."

Meanwhile, the state Senate passed a red flag gun law on a party-line vote Wednesday. That bill will go to the House for further consideration and an eventual vote.

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