RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia’s two U.S. Senators, Mark Warner (D) and Tim Kaine (D), have joined a Democratic coalition calling for stricter gun laws, including a ban on “military-style assault weapons.”
The legislation, dubbed the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2023,” is a revived effort from Democrats in Congress to set regulations on assault weapons.
President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan gun violence measure into law last June in the wake of mass shootings, including one at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
That bill expanded rules on background checks, set stricter limits to deny those convicted of domestic violence from owning firearms, provided funding to states with “red flag” laws to help keep guns out of the hands of those who present a danger, and improved mental health services.
But the legislation did not include a ban on assault weapons, a longtime goal for many Democrats. The new bill backed by Warner and Kaine would do just that.
“Communities throughout our country and the Commonwealth of Virginia have experienced the pain brought on by gun violence time and time again,” Sens. Warner and Kaine said in a joint statement.
The legislation, introduced by more than three dozen lawmakers, would prohibit the sale, transfer, manufacturing, and import of “military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and other high-capacity ammunition feeding devices,” according to a release from Warner’s office.
The release said the ban would apply to the gun used by the suspect in the Jan. 22 mass shooting after a Lunar New Year event in Monterey Park, Calif., where 11 people were killed.
“While this legislation will not prevent every senseless act of gun violence, it is a reasonable step that will take high-capacity weapons off the street.”
Warner’s office provided a list of the restrictions the bill would implement if passed into law, an unlikely scenario with Republicans in control of the U.S. House:
- Ban the sale, manufacture, transfer and importation of 205 military-style assault weapons by name. Owners may keep existing weapons
- Ban any assault weapon with the capacity to utilize a magazine that is not a fixed ammunition magazine and has one or more military characteristics including a pistol grip, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel or a folding or telescoping stock. Owners may keep existing weapons
- Ban magazines and other ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, which allow shooters to quickly fire many rounds without needing to reload. Owners may keep existing magazines
- Require a background check on any future sale, trade or gifting of an assault weapon permitted by the bill
- Prohibit the transfer of high-capacity ammunition magazines
- Ban bump-fire stocks and other devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at fully automatic rates
- The bill exempts by name more than 2,200 guns for hunting, household defense or recreational purposes
- The bill includes a grandfather clause that exempts all weapons lawfully possessed at the date of enactment