A Virginia Senate committee killed a bill on Monday that would have banned the sale of assault-style weapons and possession of high-capacity magazines, handing gun rights activists a rare win in a Capitol that Democrats won last year on the promise of sweeping gun control.
Democrats won control of the Virginia House and Senate in November for the first time in 24 years, and they immediately proposed a raft of gun control measures from universal background checks to restrictions on high capacity magazines. The bills came as no surprise – the Democrats had campaigned heavily on gun control, backed by funding from activist groups which comprehensively outspent the National Rifle Association in its home state. Democratic candidates were responding to a growing clamour for gun control that began with the mass shooting of 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007 and was amplified last year when a municipal worker slaughtered 12 people in Virginia Beach. When they won, the Democrats turned their proposals into bills and promised a wave of progressive legislation. Weeks later, the backlash began.