Joe Morrissey gun

Del. Joe Morrissey, D-Henrico, held up an assault-style rifle Thursday as he spoke for more control on such weapons at the State Capitol.

Del. Joseph D. Morrissey, D-Henrico borrowed the four assault-style weapons he brought to Capitol Square on Thursday, including one he held aloft in the House of Delegates.

Capitol Police were aware that Morrissey planned to showcase the weapons at a news conference and on the House floor, an aide to Morrissey said.

“We cleared everything with the Capitol Police,” said Waylin Ross, legislative aide to Morrissey.

On Thursday evening a House subcommittee defeated Morrissey’s House Bill 2207 that sought to ban the purchase, sale and trafficking of assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Before the subcommittee met Morrissey held a news conference in his House office to showcase assault-style weapons that he proposed to ban.

Earlier Thursday, Morrissey pulled out one of the weapons on the House floor to make a point for his gun control bill.

“What you are looking at is a 30-round magazine. Right now, you’re allowed to have 50, 75 or 100-round magazines. We hear a lot of people talk about assault rifles, but it’s very different when you see one,” Morrissey said, waving the gun.

“At many locations in the commonwealth, you can take this gun and you can walk down Main Street and not be violating the law. You can walk down in Hampton, Petersburg, Hopewell, Portsmouth or Colonial Heights and not violate the law. And even though you can’t bring this gun into a school, there is nothing preventing you from carrying this assault rifle walking in front of Walnut Hill Elementary School in Petersburg,” he said.

Del. C. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, rose out of his seat and urged Morrissey to handle the gun safely.

“I would just ask the gentleman, his thumb is in the trigger guard, to please not do that,” Gilbert said. “I would ask him to assure those present that the gun is unloaded. He did not mention that when he held up the gun with a magazine in it and with his thumb in the trigger guard.”

Morrissey said the gun was unloaded and had been inspected by police for safety prior to his demonstration. Gilbert slipped back into his seat while Morrissey took his thumb out of the trigger guard.

Morrissey said later that he had never owned any guns and had borrowed the AK-47 from a friend, who is a gun enthusiast.

-- Andrew Cain and Markus Schmidt

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