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Gun control is met with cold shoulder from Va. legislators

Date published: 1/25/2013



Today Vice President Joe Biden will join U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine and others in Richmond to talk about the Obama administration's efforts to increase restrictions on certain firearms.

But if some Virginia state legislators have their way, those federal restrictions would be challenged in court or outright ignored in Virginia.

On Thursday, a House subcommittee approved a bill from Del. Bob Marshall, R-Prince William, that would prevent any Virginia state agency or employee from assisting a federal investigation or prosecution under any new federal law or regulation "infringing the individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms by imposing new restrictions on private ownership or private transfer of firearms, firearm magazines, ammunition, or components thereof."

On a party-line vote, a subcommittee of the House Militia, Police and Public Safety committee gave Marshall's bill preliminary approval, and it will now go to the full committee.

A resolution from Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, and Sen. Tom Garrett, R-Louisa, doesn't go as far as Marshall's bill. It doesn't prevent Virginia from complying with future federal gun restrictions.

But it does declare that the General Assembly recognizes the Second Amendment as an individual right, and that the legislature, "on behalf of the government and citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia, hereby intends to use all of its lawful authority and power to support the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, and protect the right of Virginians to keep and bear arms."

Reeves said the resolution "doesn't have any teeth," but is instead "just a reminder" that the constitution and courts have long upheld the individual right to bear arms.

"We need to keep that up front" in gun discussions, Reeves said.

Garrett interprets their joint resolution in a slightly more active light.

He thinks it gives warning of legal challenges if the federal government moves forward with gun restrictions--like those proposed Thursday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Garrett said he thinks it's the state governments' responsibility to tell the federal government if it has overstepped its authority.

If Congress passes a bill like Feinstein's--which Garrett called "a bridge too far"--he said the state or individuals will challenge it in court.

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