Bloomberg's AR-15 Ban Rejected in Virginia

It was supposed to be the best state government money could buy, bought and paid for by Mike Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety for the purpose of overturning the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms in Patrick Henry’s Virginia. Bloomberg overwhelmed the NRA in spending during the Virginia state election campaign. As CNBC reported last November:

A gun-control lobbying group funded largely by billionaire Michael Bloomberg just helped Democrats take over the state government in Virginia -- right in the National Rifle Association’s backyard.

In Tuesday’s elections, the Democrats tipped the Virginia House and Senate in their favor, giving them full control of the state government for the first time since 1994.

While the results could be a good omen for Democrats’ chances in 2020, it may also be a tipping point in the money battle over gun rights. Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun-control advocacy group that the former New York mayor helps fund, spent $2.5 million this year to influence voters in Virginia versus approximately $300,000 by the NRA, which has its headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia.

Yet despite early success in Bloomberg’s Virginia House, the Virginia Senate stood fast for the Second Amendment as the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-5 to reject House Bill 961 on February 17th. The bill is dead for this legislative session. As the Washington Times noted, it was a huge defeat for Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, famous for going beyond abortion-until-birth by proposing that babies who survive an abortion be made “comfortable” while they are left to die:

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s push to ban the sale of assault weapons has failed after members of his own party balked at the proposal.

Senators voted to shelve the bill for the year and ask the state crime commission to study the issue, an outcome that drew cheers from a committee room packed with gun advocates.

Four moderate Democrats joined Republicans in Monday’s committee vote, rejecting legislation that would have prohibited the sale of certain semiautomatic firearms, including popular AR-15 style rifles, and banned the possession of magazines that hold more than 12 rounds.

Northam had every intention of using this legislation to shred the Second Amendment in Virginia and using the full powers of Virginia state government to coerce law-abiding citizens, particularly those living in the scores of Virginia’s Second Amendment sanctuaries that have popped up to resist gun confiscation. As Cam Edwards writes at

What’s happening in Virginia right now -- dozens of cities and counties declaring themselves to be Second Amendment sanctuaries while Governor Ralph Northam, Attorney General Mark Herring, and other Democrats vow there will be “consequences” for any defiance of the governor’s proposed gun control laws- has become a national story, and not just among gun owners.

When Virginia Congressman Donald McEachin called for the governor to use the National Guard to enforce the impending restrictions on legal gun owners, interest in the state’s showdown over the new gun laws understandably exploded…

There are 75 Second Amendment Sanctuary counties in Virginia at the moment, and 17 Second Amendment Sanctuary cities or towns.

Virginia Democrats like Northam and allies like Bloomberg hinged their hopes on a similar ban in Maryland and a court ruling falsely claiming it was constitutional, that the Second Amendment, written in the age of muskets, doesn’t protect scary-looking “weapons of war” of the modern era. As BearingArms.Com notes:

“This weapons restriction is clearly constitutional,” claimed (bill sponsor Del. Mark) Levine, noting that in a challenge to a similar ban in Maryland, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals declared that so-called assault weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment. What Levine didn’t say is that the U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t taken up a case dealing with semi-automatic long guns.

Gov. Northam’s director of public safety, Brian Moran, also claimed the bill would pass constitutional muster by citing the Kolbe case as well, calling the guns that would be banned under HB961 “weapons of war.” According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the guns that would have been banned under the bill are the most commonly manufactured rifles in the United States today, and the U.S. Supreme Court has said that arms that are in common use for lawful purposes are protected by the Second Amendment.

That is certainly true of the AR-15. As one wag put it, a gun in the hand is betters than a cop on a phone and the response time for a bullet from an AR15 fired in self-defense is a lot quicker than calling 911. Other non-scary weapons are just as lethal and the AR15 has been chosen by popular demanded as the defensive weapon of choice, despite that earlier nonsensical ruling by another federal judge. As Investors Business Daily commented in August 14, 2014 editorial:

As the Ferguson riots raged, U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake, appointed by President Clinton, issued a ruling that upheld the Maryland law, saying, "the court seriously doubts that the banned assault long guns are commonly possessed for lawful purposes... and is inclined to find the weapons fall outside Second Amendment protection as dangerous and unusual."

Now the Second Amendment, written in the era of muskets, does not mention what arms we have the right to keep and bear. But we have an idea, based on how they were used: to protect their owners' homes, businesses, farms and families, and to fight the tyranny of the British crown. It's been said that the Second Amendment was put in the Bill of Rights to protect the other nine.

Gun control advocates say, with some snarkiness, that the Second Amendment doesn't allow one to own nuclear weapons or tanks, so it's merely a question of where we draw the line. They would draw the line at the AR-15 and its counterparts -- which, despite the judge's claim, are commonly used for legal, defensive purposes.

While used in several high-profile mass shootings, the AR-15 is favored among homeowners, hunters and sport shooters. It's popular for both sport and self-defense among women, who find it easy to carry and handle.

Crime rates and homicides have dropped as concealed-carry laws spread nationwide. As more citizens are armed, predators find it harder to find unarmed victims except in gun-free zones such as the school in Newtown, Conn., or the theater in Aurora, Colo.

Critics of the Second Amendment say that they are not going after guns used for legitimate activities such as hunting. But when the Founders wrote the Second Amendment it was because the British were coming, not because it was the start of deer season. The musket was used in both war and defense of home and family It can be said the musket was the AR-15 of its day. It can be argued George Washington would have owned an AR-15 and armed his army of farmers, carpenters, and merchants with them. It is also a weapon used by private citizen Stephen Willeford to cut short a massacre and a pregnant mom to defend her house, her family, and unborn child

Bloomberg aspires to be President of the United States, the most heavily guarded human being on this planet. Bloomberg won’t give up his armed security, why should I give up mine? Bloomberg should ponder the fact that we owe our freedom to armed citizens who echoed Patrick Henry’s famois cry, “Give me liberty or give me death!” 

Daniel John Sobieski is a former editorial writer for Investor’s Business Daily and freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.               

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