It was a beautiful Monday morning for gun-rights activists, as the House Bill 961 was officially shut down. The bill, which was endorsed by Gov. Ralph Northam and advocated to ban assault-style weapons, had failed to get the committee votes it needs, due to Democrat defections.

The committee’s rejection marks one of the biggest drawbacks for Northam, as gun-control used to be one of the governor’s biggest priorities. It also did not help that even a Democrat-led state like Virginia failed to get the support they needed to implement stricter gun laws.

During the committee vote, four moderate Democrats joined the Republicans in rejecting the bill that would ban certain semiautomatic firearms, including AR-15 style rifles. The bill would also prohibit the possession of magazines that hold more than 12 rounds.

When the votes came in, gun rights activists cheered after the Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee officially rejected the bill called HB961.


The bill’s rejection seemed to echo the concerns of more than 100 cities in Virginia which had declared themselves as “sanctuary jurisdiction.” These sanctuary cities were a response to the fear that Northam and his tight gun-control policies would take away the people’s rights to the second amendment.

As Time published, “Gun owners, especially in rural communities, have pushed back hard. Last month, tens of thousands of guns-rights activists from around the country flooded the Capitol and surrounding area in protest, some donning tactical gear and carrying military-style rifles. And more than 100 counties, cities and towns have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries, vowing to oppose any new “unconstitutional restrictions” on guns.”

On the other hand, gun-control activists refuse to give up. Kris Brown, the President of Brady United Against Gun Violence said, “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.”

Brown added, “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.”

Democratic Sen. Louise Louis also gave a violent reaction exclaiming, “You bunch of wimps!” after the vote results came in.

However, gun-rights activists cannot breathe a sigh of relief yet as other gun control bills have made it to the Senate. These include banning guns and weapons in public spaces, requiring universal background checks, limit on handgun purchases, and finally, the policy which would allow the government to take away guns from people they see as “dangerous.”

House Bill 961 was a response to the mass shooting in Virginia Beach which took dozens of lives. The incident happened on May 31, when Civil engineer DeWayne Craddock opened fire in a public building. Craddock later died after an intense gunfight with the police.