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  • Rick Laughlin

OPPOSE VA HOUSE BILL 961

H.B. 961 Fact Sheet

Any violation of H.B. 961 would be a Class 6 felony. A Class 6 felony is punishable by “a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than five years . . . .” Va. Code § 18.2-10(f).


That will be the penalty for having a gun with some inconsequential feature, such as an adjustable shoulder stock, or even a single magazine that holds 12 rounds instead of 10. That’s exactly the same penalty if a person would unlawfully “shoot, stab, cut, or wound any person or by any means cause him bodily injury, with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill . . . .” Va. Code § 18.2-51. Class 6 felonies should be limited to serious, violent crimes.


A felony conviction deprives one of the civil rights to vote, serve on a jury, run for office, and possess a firearm. It destroys jobs, families, and real people. Those who pretend to be for “criminal justice reform” and grant parole to violent offenders in prison seek to imprison their fellow citizens for victimless crimes.


H.B. 961 states at the end “that the provisions of this act may result in a net increase in periods of imprisonment.” Time to build more prisons for law-abiding citizens.


H.B. 961 would ban commonly possessed rifles, which are rarely used in crime. The FBI Uniform Crime Reports show the following weapons as used in homicides in 2018: handguns 6,603, knives 1,515, personal weapons (hands etc.) 672, and rifles (of all kinds) 297.1 The 2007 Virginia Tech and the 2019 Virginia Beach shootings involved only handguns.


H.B. 961 would ban the most popular rifles in the Commonwealth today that are typically used for hunting, target shooting, and self-defense. That would include center-fire semiautomatics either with a fixed magazine holding more than ten rounds, or with a detachable magazine with a single one of the following harmless features:

• a telescoping stock that allows adjustment to one’s body size

• a pistol grip or thumbhole stock that allows a secure hold

• a bayonet mount such as on old, collectible M-1 carbines

• muzzle attachments that reduce recoil (“kick”)

• a threaded barrel

• “any characteristic of like kind” – a vague term without meaning

• a “part” that can alter a firearm per the above – that’s anyone’s guess


H.B. 961 would make possession of a magazine that holds over ten rounds a Class 6 felony. Most modern firearms have such magazines.


Not even California imposes such a severe punishment, and its magazine ban was declared unconstitutional.


https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2018/crime-in-the-u.s.-2018/tables/expandedhomicide-data-table-8.xls.

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