Virginia Democrats are proposing a mandatory state gun registration measure after widespread public outrage forced them to back off a more aggressive plan to confiscate so-called assault weapons, a designation that gun experts have long rejected as arbitrary.
Gun-control advocates call modern sporting rifles—such as the popular AR-15—assault weapons, likening them to weapons of war.
But Gov. Ralph Northam’s plan still calls for a ban on assault weapons, albeit with a grandfather clause allowing those who already own such weapons to keep them, Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky said in a statement, The Daily Wire reported on Dec. 12.
The grandfather clause will apply only if the owners register their weapons with the government “before the end of a designated grace period,” Yarmosky said.
Northam issued what Cam Edwards of the pro-Second Amendment website Bearing Arms characterized as a “veiled threat” to use force against political subdivisions of the state that refuse to comply with new laws.
“If we have constitutional laws on the books and law enforcement officers are not enforcing those laws on the books, then there are going to be consequences, but I’ll cross that bridge if and when we get to it,” Northam reportedly said Dec. 10.
The recent flurry of activity in Virginia on the gun policy comes in the wake of Democrats’ Nov. 5 takeover of both houses of the General Assembly in Richmond, an electoral development that some observers say completes the years-long transition of the formerly red state into a blue state.
Democrats now control all the levers of political power at the state level, including the governorship and the attorney general’s office.
The left’s assault on Second Amendment rights moved into high gear after a May 31 shooting in Virginia Beach that left 12 people dead boosted gun control proposals and emboldened activists.
Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control pressure group created in 2014 by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who recently launched a campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, spent $2.5 million in the state this year to elect pro-gun-control Democrats.