Virginia State Sen. Chap Petersen is one of four Democrats who stopped passage of a semi-auto ban backed by anti-gun Gov. Ralph Northam. (Screen snip, YouTube, Inside Scoop)
One of four Virginia Senate Democrats who crossed the aisle, voting with Republicans to “shelve” anti-gun Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposed ban on so-called “assault weapons,” told Fox News “that listening to his constituents and pro-Second Amendment activists were very ‘helpful’ and mattered to his decision-making process.”
Virginia State Sen. Chap Petersen had some serious concerns about the proposed legislation, especially a section he described as making a violation retroactive.
“In other words,” Petersen told Fox News’ Pete Hegseth, “if you went out and legally purchased a weapon or legally purchased a particular part, just simply by owning that you could become a class VI felon or class I misdemeanant. And that, to me, it’s not fair, it’s not due process, and that was what really bothered me the most.”
Petersen was joined by fellow Democrat Senators Creigh Deeds, Scott Surovell and John Edwards in derailing the legislation, which was part of Northam’s far-reaching gun control agenda. It was a setback not only for Northam, but also for anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg, whose Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund spent $2.5 million to help Democrats gain control of the Virginia General Assembly in last November’s election. Democrats had not controlled the assembly for 20 years.
When the four sided with rights advocates, State Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) called them a “bunch of wimps,” according to the Washington Post.
Petersen’s pronouncement is not lost on Washington State gun rights activists who have been pounding their legislature with emails and phone calls in an effort to stop several gun control measures.
One that got through the Senate this week has alarmed and infuriated those Evergreen State gun owners. It is Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6288, which creates the Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention within the state Commerce Department. Second Amendment advocates consider this new bureaucracy to be not only unnecessary, but also a taxpayer-funded state agency whose sole purpose is to justify further gun control efforts.
This new office will offer grants to various communities “that are disproportionately impacted by violence, to law enforcement agencies in those cities, and to community-based organizations that serve the residents of those cities.” To rights activists, that translates to providing public money to gun control groups.
To underscore that complaint, Dan Mitchell with the Washington 2020 Legislative Action Group pointed to Section 4, which states in part:
“(4) An applicant for a program grant shall submit a proposal, in a form prescribed by the office, which must include, but not be limited to, all of the following:
(a) Clearly defined and measurable objectives for the grant;
(b) A statement describing how the applicant proposes to use the grant to implement an evidence-based firearm reduction initiative in accordance with this section…”
“Public money to reduce firearms,” Mitchell wrote in a post on Facebook.
Mitchell is one of two firearms retailers challenging provisions of gun control Initiative 1639 in U.S. District Court with support from the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment Foundation.
One advantage Washington gun owners have over their contemporaries in Virginia is that all of Washington’s state House members are up for election this fall. Activists who get busy can recruit and support candidates to displace Democrats in vulnerable districts, thus swinging control back to Republicans who are far more friendly to gun rights. Some state senators are also up for re-election and could find themselves targeted for replacement.
There are also at least five Republicans now declared as candidates to take the governor’s office away from Democrat Jay Inslee, now running for a third term.