by Brandon Jarvis

The Virginia Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would ban the purchase of assault-style weapons in Virginia. The legislation would ban the purchase of any “assault firearm” that was manufactured after July 1, 2024. 

Republicans pushed back against the legislation, accusing Democrats of saying on the campaign trail that they do not want to take away guns while effectively doing so with this bill.

After a long floor debate, the legislation passed on a 21-19 party-line vote. 

One key complaint from Republicans is the section of the bill that would ban any magazine with more than ten bullets. 

“The legislation defines high-capacity magazines and makes it illegal to purchase, own or transfer, what it calls high-capacity magazines, and these are not magazines with hundreds of rounds of capacity, or even magazines with 30 or 40 rounds, or even magazines with 15 rounds,” said Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham. “Virtually every semi-automatic handgun sold in America comes with a magazine with a capacity in excess of 10 rounds. This legislation just absolutely decimates the ability of Virginians to purchase guns if that’s your objective.”

Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Charlottesville, is sponsoring this legislation for the second year. 

“I grew up with guns, and I probably learned to shoot before learning to read,” Deeds said Wednesday. I’m certainly not interested in undoing the Second Amendment or eliminating the ability of people to reasonably own firearms.” 

Democrats stressed how assault-style weapons can cause more damage in a shorter amount of time. 

“These firearms that resemble those used by soldiers are more lethal than traditional hunting rifles and shotguns due to their ability to accept high capacity magazines holding 10 or more rounds allowing shooters to fire numerous shots before reloading, leading to increased casualties,” said Sen. Sadam Salim, D-Fairfax.

Senate Democratic Leader Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, reminded the body that this bill will not take guns away from anyone who already owns them. It will only prevent their future purchase. 

“This law doesn’t require anybody to surrender their gun and doesn’t require anybody to turn in their gun,” he said. “We’ve seen laws like that in the past year, and we didn’t pass them. This only deals with prospective future behavior. The reason we are doing it is because Americans and Virginians are being terrorized by these things.”  

The House of Delegates has already passed a similar bill. 

If the House and Senate can pass an identical version, the legislation will then go to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who will likely veto it. 

Youngkin has called any bills applying new restrictions on firearms an “unnecessary distraction” and will likely veto them when they make it to his desk. 

Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin, relayed that sentiment on the floor Wednesday. 

“Quite frankly, this bill may pass out this body, go to the next body, it may pass after that,” Stanley said. “It may then be put up on the governor’s desk, and I can guarantee you that it will not pass and become law. It will be vetoed.”

The governor’s office did not directly say that he would veto the legislation in a comment Wednesday – but it was strongly implied. 

“The Governor will review any legislation that comes to his desk, but as he reiterated during his State of the Commonwealth address, Virginia’s gun laws are already among the toughest in the nation,” said Christian Martinez, a spokesperson for Youngkin. “ He’s asking the General Assembly members to hold accountable those criminals that commit crimes with guns by lengthening and making more severe the penalties in order to keep criminals off the streets.” 

By vascope