(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A bill backed by Gov. Ralph Northam that would ban the sale of so-called assault-style weapons in Virginia failed on a committee vote Monday morning.
Gun-rights activists cheered as the vote came in, with four moderate Democrats joining Republicans to shelve the bill until next year.
Heated exchanges over guns have dominated this year’s legislative session, as reported by Fox News. They were also a key topic of last year’s legislative elections after a mass shooting in Virginia Beach claimed a dozen lives.
Gun-rights protesters have been out in force for weeks in Richmond, Va., the state’s capital, over Democrats’ gun control agenda.
“I have friends that are not going to comply,” warned Nicholas McGraw, a gun owner from King William County who came to protest the assault weapons bill on Feb. 7, before the measure died.
McGraw’s comments reflected the attitude of many conservatives and Second Amendment activists in Virginia, especially in its more rural areas. More than 100 Virginia cities and counties have declared themselves to be sanctuary jurisdictions for gun rights since Democrats, led by Gov. Northam, took control of the state’s government.
Such “sanctuaries” would order local law enforcement not to enforce state gun laws.
But proponents of the assault weapons bill said that they would take the setback in stride.
“While we are disappointed in today’s vote, we are undeterred. Assault-style weapons, large-capacity magazines, and other accessories designed to heighten the lethality of firearms have no place in our communities,” Kris Brown, President of Brady United Against Gun Violence, said in a statement. “In the meantime, the Judiciary Committee and Virginia Senate must swiftly pass the remaining seven, common-sense gun violence prevention laws before them. We need the action that voters demanded in November.”
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