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Democrat-sponsored gun bills sail through committee

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(The Center Square) — Multiple Democrat-sponsored pieces of gun legislation aimed at strengthening firearm laws advanced in Virginia’s House of Delegates this week.

House bill 2

A bill to watch this legislative session sponsored by Del. Dan Helmer, D-Fairfax, House bill 2 creates a class 1 misdemeanor for any person who imports, sells, manufactures, purchases, possesses, transports or transfers an assault firearm and prohibits anyone convicted of such violation from purchasing, possessing or transporting a firearm for three years from the date of conviction.

Hotly debated, the bill passed 6-4 from the subcommittee and 11-9 from the committee along party lines.

House bill 22

The legislation is sponsored by Del. Michael Jones, D-Richmond, and attempts to outlaw auto sears in the commonwealth and make any violation of the law punishable as a class 6 felony. An auto sear, also known as a switch on the streets, is a device that converts semiautomatic guns into machine guns.

Richmond Chief of Police Rick Edwards testified before the subcommittee on Thursday to support the bill. Richmond police, under current Virginia law, are able to seize auto sears but have to rely on the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to arrest those in possession.

The subcommittee voted unanimously in favor of the bill, which then unanimously passed the Public Safety Committee.

House bill 46

The legislation sponsored by Del. Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, D-Alexandria, would prohibit the transfer of a firearm from someone who is subject to a protective order or who has been convicted of assault and battery against a family member from transferring possession of the gun to anyone living with that individual or anyone under the age of 21.

The president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League spoke against the legislation.

“The bill goes a little bit too far in the sense that if a husband and wife have a shared gun for home defense, a shotgun, if the husband were to get a protective order, now the co-owned shotgun would be gone and the wife who had nothing to do with this would now have lost her ability to protect herself at home,” said Philip Van Cleave.

The bill passed subcommittee 6-4, then was voted on Democratic support through the committee 11-9.

House bills 113, 173, 454, 466, all Democrat-sponsored bills, also made it through committee this week.

House bills 16, 390 and 395, Republican-sponsored bills, died in committee or subcommittee.

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