Democrats who won control of Virginia’s legislature on the promise of sweeping gun control lost a battle over assault-style weapons on Monday, handing Gov. Ralph Northam a big defeat and giving a rare win to Second Amendment activists in a newly blue Capitol.
A Virginia Senate committee killed a bill that would have banned the sale of assault-style weapons and possession of high-capacity magazines. It had been a top priority for Northam (D), a former Army doctor who served in Operation Desert Storm and often remarks that he has “seen firsthand what weapons of war do to human beings.”
The bill was part of a package of eight gun-control measures Northam advanced after a shooter killed 12 people at a Virginia Beach municipal building on May 31. Republicans’ refusal to act on those bills last summer, in a special session they gaveled out in 90 minutes, became a rallying cry for Democrats in November elections. They flipped the state House and Senate blue for the first time in a generation.
The House has passed all eight of Northam’s bills, but a handful of Democrats in the less liberal Senate have quashed three of them amid fears that the newly empowered party might overplay its hand. The same tension has been playing out on other fronts, with the Senate taking a more cautious approach on issues such as the minimum wage, collective bargaining and state budgeting.
While the general public supports what could be called the Democratic Party agenda, they do not believe that when push comes to shove, they will muster the intestinal fortitude to actually get their policies implemented.
Voters hate cowards.