VA Senate Bill 16 (prefiled)

I wrote a quick article last week about VA Senate Bill 64. I think a lot of people took it to mean I don’t believe that some of the implications of the current law and the proposed law under SB64 are that big of a deal. As I mentioned in the piece I wrote, I think there are some First Amendment implications, but the overall impact of the law with its exceptions are not nearly as big of a threat as this gem – VA Senate Bill 16.

SB16 covers a lot of ground, and makes some pretty serious impacts if passed. Some of the things SB16 does:

  1. Adds possession of an “assault firearm” to the list of reasons a minor can be denied a driver’s license for up to two years after eligibility.
  2. Expands the ban on open carry of loaded shotguns with magazines that will hold more than 7 rounds to the entire state.
  3. Makes it illegal for FFLs to sell “assault firearms.”
  4. Creates a magical new definition of “assault firearms.”
  5. Bans the sale and transfer of magazines over 10 rounds.

Numbers 1 & 2 are really just little annoyances – in fact, the exceptions section of the applicable law for number 2 is a hole large enough to drive a semi through. However, the massively redefined section regarding “assault firearms” is an issue – a big issue. Reading suspiciously like a Bloomberg/California-style ban, it defines “assault firearms” as:

1. A semi-automatic center-fire rifle that expels single or multiple projectiles by action of an explosion of a combustible material with a fixed magazine capacity in excess of 10 rounds;

2. A semi-automatic center-fire rifle that expels single or multiple projectiles by action of an explosion of a combustible material that has the ability to accept a detachable magazine and 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 capable of accepting (a) a silencer, (b) a flash suppressor, (c) a muzzle brake, or (d) a muzzle compensator; or (xiii) any characteristic of like kind as enumerated in clauses (i) through (xii);

3. A semi-automatic center-fire pistol that expels single or multiple projectiles by action of an explosion of a combustible material with a fixed magazine capacity in excess of 10 rounds;

4. A semi-automatic center-fire pistol that expels single or multiple projectiles by action of an explosion of a combustible material that has the ability to accept a detachable magazine and 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 capable of accepting (a) a silencer, (b) a flash suppressor, (c) a barrel extender, or (d) a forward handgrip; or (viii) any characteristic of like kind as enumerated in clauses (i) through (vii);

5. A shotgun with a revolving cylinder that expels single or multiple projectiles by action of an explosion of a combustible material; or

6. A semi-automatic shotgun that expels single or multiple projectiles by action of an explosion of a combustible material that has 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).

“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. “Assault firearm” does not include (i) a firearm that has been rendered permanently inoperable, (ii) an antique firearm as defined in § 18.2-308.2:2, or (iii) a curio or relic as defined in § 18.2-308.2:2.

As you can see, they learned from the 1994 ban and the workarounds it created, and they wrote it vaguely enough that there is lots of wiggle room for the prosecutors. As usual, this proposed ban ignores the fact that “assault firearms” as defined here are rarely used in crimes, and even the mass shootings that this ban purports to stop are a statistical rarity in the overall death (and even firearm death) statistics. It is also almost entirely cosmetic. Your Glock 17 is legal. Your Glock 17 with a threaded barrel (even with nothing attached) is illegal. In fact, the threaded barrel by itself is illegal because it is “any part…intended to convert…a firearm into an assault firearm.” This is Bloomberg-funded stupidity at its finest.

There is no grandfather clause. The next section states:

B. It shall be is unlawful for any person to import, sell, possess or transfer the following firearms: the Striker 12, commonly called a “streetsweeper,” or any semi-automatic folding stock shotgun of like kind with a spring tension drum magazine capable of holding twelve shotgun shells, manufacture, purchase, possess, or transport an assault firearm. A violation of this section shall be is punishable as a Class 6 felony.

If you own one of these guns, you now have to get rid of it or convert it. Your thousands of dollars worth of ARs? Meh, consider those a loss – for the children, of course.

Interestingly enough, there isn’t a provision exempting law enforcement or the military like there are in a lot of the other gun laws. It specifically says “any person.” While there may be an exception elsewhere, I really hope there isn’t. In fact, I really hope that if the Legislature is stupid enough to pass this law, they seize the guns from the State Police first (Northam’s and their protection), followed by every other LE agency, then the National Guard. It’ll be awesome.

Of course, for the few neutered guns you have left, you’re only allowed to buy 10-round magazines from now on. There is a grandfather clause here, and an exception for LE agencies. I guess they can still feed their pistols with 10+ rounds, because they apparently won’t be feeding their ARs with them. But it’s okay, because mass shooters never use magazines of 10 or fewer rounds in their shootings, so we’ll all be safer. Except, of course, for the Parkland shooter. Oh, and the guy in Virginia Beach that these laws are supposedly in reaction to. But, I digress…

Anyway, this law has already been covered ad nauseum by better writers than me, but it can’t hurt to put it out again. The biggest takeaway from these last two articles for you – there are a lot of anti-2A laws being proposed. We need to prioritize which ones are the greatest threats to our community and push our heaviest efforts towards fighting those. If we can knock out some of the big ones, it will show that these laws do not have the backing of Virginians, no matter how much Northam and his new majority claim to have a “mandate.”

Hope this has been helpful. As always, let me know what you think in the comments, and if you think it would help someone else, feel free to share.

3 thoughts on “VA Senate Bill 16 (prefiled)

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