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Controversial Virginia Gun Bill Tabled Until Next Year

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With just a few weeks left in the 2020 legislative session, the Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee elected to table discussions surrounding the session’s most controversial bill until they reconvene next year. After being voted out of  the House of Delegates on February 11 by a narrow margin, House Bill 961– an “assault weapons ban” – died in Committee after a handful of moderate Democrats broke party lines, agreeing to delay discussions on the measure amidst concerns that the language of the bill was too broad.

Safari Club International (SCI) was happy to join with other groups such as VCDL, NSSF, NRA, and the American Suppressor Association in fighting this onerous legislation.

 SCI launched a grassroots campaign through SCI’s Hunter Advocacy Action Center to push back against the proposed legislation. By giving constituents a chance to connect directly with their elected officials, SCI was able to leverage the voice of the hunting community to educate legislators on the negative impacts of this bill. More importantly, SCI members were able to voice their oppositions to several key Democrats who voted to table the bill. SCI Has already began proactively working to prevent the bill from resurfacing next year.

If H.B. 961 had been enacted, a ban on commonly owned semi-automatic firearms, suppressors, and standard capacity magazines would have been implemented. The bill was amended after introduction to allow citizens to keep semi-automatic firearms and suppressors that they currently own, but their was no option for citizens to keep their lawfully acquired magazines with capacities greater than 12 rounds, which would have forced millions of Virginians to dispose of their property, become a criminal, or surrender them to the government.

This legislation would have negatively impacted hunters in Virginia in a variety of ways:


Ban the future sale or purchase of many commonly owned and used semiautomatic firearms for hunting and recreational shooting. This includes firearms with thumbhole stocks or pistol grips commonly used for turkey hunting.


Ban the future sale and purchase of firearms suppressors. According to the ATF’s most recent report, there are approximately 70,000 lawfully obtained suppressors in Virginia. Legally obtained suppressors are used so rarely in crime that ATF has publicly stated that suppressors “should not be viewed as a threat to public safety.” Hunting with a suppressor is legal in Virginia.


Turn many law-abiding sportsmen and women into criminals for simply owning or possessing any magazine capable of holding 12 or rounds.


Virginia has over 1.07 million sportsmen and women who spend $2.38 billion annually and support almost 40,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. Hunting and recreational shooting are a time-honored tradition that directly supports conservation funding in Virginia, and this legislation directly impacts the next generation of hunters. SCI will continue to protect the rights of sportsmen men and women in Virginia and across the country. To continue monitoring this situation, and to stay updated on other important issues sign up for SCI’s Hunter Advocacy Action Center today.



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