Michael Bloomberg’s bought and paid for Virginia legislators have wasted no time introducing legislation that would make the Old Dominion’s gun laws worse than those of the billionaire’s home state of New York.
SB 16, introduced by Sen. Richard L. Saslaw, would create a total ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms, like the AR-15. Even worse, the ban would even extend to common firearm parts. The restrictions included in the proposed legislation does not grandfather current owners. The legislation is clearly designed to be firearms confiscation, as current owners would be forced to dispossess themselves of their property or face a felony conviction.
Saslaw’s legislation provides,
It is unlawful for any person to import, sell, transfer, manufacture, purchase, possess, or transport an assault firearm.
Otherwise law-abiding gun owners found in possession of an “assault firearm,” even one they purchased prior to the ban, could be convicted of a Class 6 felony. A Class 6 felony is punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment.
The legislation lays out several criteria by which a firearm would be defined as an “assault firearm.” This includes,
- A semi-automatic centerfire rifle with a fixed magazine with a capacity greater than 10 rounds.
- A semi-automatic centerfire rifle with a detachable magazine that has one of the following characteristics:
(i) a folding or telescoping stock; (ii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the rifle; (iii) a thumbhole stock; (iv) a second handgrip or a protruding grip that can be held by the non-trigger hand; (v) a bayonet mount; (vi) a grenade launcher; (vii) a flare launcher; (viii) a silencer; (ix) a flash suppressor; (x) a muzzle brake; (xi) a muzzle compensator; (xii) a threaded barrel… or (xiii) any characteristic of like kind as enumerated in clauses (i) through (xii)
- A semi-automatic centerfire pistol with a fixed magazine capacity greater than 10 rounds.
- A semi-automatic centerfire pistol with a detachable magazine that has one of the following characteristics:
(i) a folding or telescoping stock; (ii) a thumbhole stock; (iii) a second handgrip or a protruding grip that can be held by the non-trigger hand; (iv) the capacity to accept a magazine that attaches to the pistol outside of the pistol grip; (v) a shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel and that permits the shooter to hold the pistol with the non-trigger hand without being burned; (vi) a manufactured weight of 50 ounces or more when the pistol is unloaded; (vii) a threaded barrel… or (viii) any characteristic of like kind as enumerated in clauses (i) through (vii);
- A shotgun with a revolving cylinder.
- A semi-automatic shotgun with one of the following characteristics:
(i) a folding or telescoping stock, (ii) a thumbhole stock, (iii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the shotgun, (iv) the ability to accept a detachable magazine, (v) a fixed magazine capacity in excess of seven rounds, or (vi) any characteristic of like kind as enumerated in clauses (i) through (v).
With this definition, SB 16 would outlaw America’s most popular rifle, the AR-15, along with countless other rifles, pistols, and shotguns that Virginians use for hunting, target shooting, and self-defense.
A knowledgeable firearms owner will take a look at the ridiculous definition and realize that such ham-handed legislation must be born out of petty vindictiveness or a complete ignorance of firearm technology, as there is no logical public safety rationale.
For example, the legislation is so broad that it would ban hunting guns like the Mossberg 935 Turkey shotgun for its “pistol grip.”
The ban would prohibit the possession of guns like this Model SP-10 Magnum Thumbhole Camo due to its thumbhole stock.
The ban would also capture guns such as this version of the Browning BAR Mark II Safari hunting rifle, as it has a detachable box magazine and a muzzle brake.
Moreover, the “any characteristic of like kind” language that appears after each list of prohibited features introduces an unacceptable vagueness into the definition of what does or does not constitute an “assault firearm.” Law-abiding gun owners would be forced to prophesy just how a court might interpret those unclear provisions.
As bad and senseless as the prohibition on certain firearms is, the proposed ban on firearm parts truly shows how Michael Bloomberg is cashing in on his political investment.
The legislation provides,
“Assault firearm” includes any part or combination of parts designed or intended to convert, modify, or otherwise alter a firearm into an assault firearm, or any combination of parts that may be readily assembled into an assault firearm.
This passage would appear to make all of the firearm parts listed under the various feature tests in and of themselves “assault firearms” and therefore prohibited. As the individual part is treated as an “assault firearm,” possession of such a part would be punishable in the same manner as a prohibited firearm, as a Class 6 felony.
Many firearms are modular. For instance, the same muzzle brake or flash suppressor could be used to turn a semi-automatic firearm into an “assault firearm” under the bill’s definition, or it could be used by a hunter or precision rifle shooter on their bolt-action rifle.
In recent years the popularity of the AR-15 platform has led to the adoption of AR-15 parts in other types of firearms. An example of this trend is the Ruger Precision Rimfire rifle. The firearm is a bolt-action rimfire rifle that accepts an AR-15 pistol grip. As the pistol grip part is a prohibited feature on a semi-automatic rifle that can accept a detachable magazine and is designed for use on a prohibited AR-15, the mere grip itself could be banned under this legislation.
SB 16 also bans the importation, sale, and transfer of standard capacity firearm magazines that are designed to hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Many handguns commonly-owned by law-abiding citizens for concealed carry come standard with magazines that would be banned. Otherwise law-abiding gun owners who violate the magazine provision could be found guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. A Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail.
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