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Senate special panel likely to kill House bills expanding gun rights

Anne Bartlett

The chairman of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee this morning announced that he was creating a special subcommittee to hear a collection of bills dealing with guns that have passed the House of Delegates, including a proposal to repeal Virginia's law limiting handgun purchases to one a month.

The committee's membership leaves little doubt as to the outcome: Chaired by Democrat Sen. Toddy Puller (D-Fairfax), the committee will also include Democrats Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) and Sen. Louise Lucas. Each have a long history of opposing such bills. The only Republican serving on the subcommittee will be Sen. Fred Quayle, who said recently he does not favor repealing the one-gun-a-month law.

Sending the bills to a subcommittee takes advantage of a new practice of the Senate to allow the smaller group of senators to kill bills without requiring a vote of the full committee. The House has long operated under such rules. After years of moaning about how the House often failed to give its proposals the consideration of full committees, the Senate this year decided to follow the House lead and adopt a similar practice.

Sending the gun bills to a subcommittee ensures the bills will be killed by senators from safe districts, whose voting history on gun issues is well established. It spares Democrats on the full committee who sometimes vote for such bills a tough vote that could hurt their reelection efforts.

Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D), the party's former gubernatorial nominee, for instance, will likely not have to cast a vote on the one-gun-a-month issue. He had said during the campaign that he would not veto a repeal of the bill but as a delegate in the 1990s, he had backed the adoption of the measure.

Sen. Chap Petersen (D), who represents a swing Fairfax district, will also not have to weigh in. Petersen supported a measure earlier in the session to allow restaurant patrons to carry concealed weapons in establishments that serve alcohol, as long as they do not drink. Petersen said recently that he opposed repealing the one-gun-a-month law.

Courts Committee Chairman Henry Marsh (D) denied protecting Senate voting records was a motivation for creating the subcommittee. Instead, he said he was aiming to "expedite" the work of the committee. Without sending the bills to subcommittee, he said the committee would not be able to complete its docket this year.

The special subcommittee is scheduled to meet Thursday.

CORRECTION: As a state delegate, Creigh Deeds voted against Virginia's one-gun-a-month purchase limit and has always opposed the law. Our apologies for the error.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  |  March 1, 2010; 12:44 PM ET
Categories:  !General Assembly , 2010 legislative session , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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Looks like the VA Dems took a page from Vlad Putin . . .

Posted by: k_romulus | March 1, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Obviously stacked. This is gutter politics.
Notice the part about protecting Dems on the full committee for re-election. Pathetic. We need no more proof as to where their loyalties lay; to themselves. I would really lament the demise of the castle doctrine. Oh well, the bills will just have to be re-introduced, let's keep up the fight.

Posted by: twcmx | March 1, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure glad the Dems believe in "majority rules". Heh.

Posted by: EnjoyEverySandwich | March 1, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm a democrat. I voted democrat in the last election. I support democratic ideas.
And now Virginia democrat senators have decided to attack the 2nd amendment in a sneaky back-stabbing political maneuver. They want to make it so nobody else has a say in the law.
They want a political war with all the gun owners of Virginia. Fine, they'll get one.

Posted by: frank4570 | March 1, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely brilliant. Republicans don't have to say anything about guns this election year because the Democrats have said it for them. It seems that the Democratic Party in Virginia is it's own worst enemy.

Posted by: hankinnova | March 2, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

It appears they don't have this luxury. The subcommittee can debate and vote all it wants but it must give the bill to the full committee and can only forward a recommendation about the vote to that committee.

20 (h). The Chair of any Committee may appoint subcommittees to consider a particular bill or resolution or to consider matters relative to a portion of the work of the Committee. Such subcommittees shall make recommendations to the Committee. The Chair of the full Committee shall be an ex officio member of all subcommittees and entitled to vote, but shall not be counted as a member for purposes of a quorum. All subcommittees shall be governed by the Rules of the Senate.

Posted by: paperregister | March 4, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

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