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Fairfax County commonwealth's attorney wants assault weapons banned

"Prosecutors like myself do not have the tools to keep the community safe from guns," Steve Descano said.

FAIRFAX, Va. — One of the top leaders in the largest county in Virginia wants assault weapons banned.

Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Steve Descano said it appears there are more crimes involving high-powered guns.

A jury recently convicted a Springfield man of second-degree murder after he used an AR-15 in an ambush killing. In addition, Carlington Fitz Auther Campbell was armed with a pistol and 86 rounds of ammunition. 

Descano stressed the recent ruling is a reminder that assault rifles are used beyond mass shootings.

"Mass shootings get the headlines but unfortunately, we see these types of assault rifles used in crimes every day," he said. 

Despite the concerning reality for law enforcement, Descano said there is only so much his office can do to stop the issue of assault weapons. 

"In Virginia, prosecutors like myself do not have the tools to keep the community safe from guns," Descano said. "As the prosecutor who is trying to keep this community safe, I need more tools in my toolbox."

Descano tried to help pass a bill in Virginia to make possession of a gun with scratched-out serial numbers illegal. The bill ultimately failed. 

Despite the Republican-controlled House and governor in Virginia, he is still calling on the state government to act. 

The U.S. House recently approved a bill to ban certain guns nearly two decades after the last assault weapons ban of 1994 expired. The bill would make it illegal to import, sell or manufacture a long list of semi-automatic guns. It would not outlaw guns people already own. 

However, this bill is expected to stall out in the Senate.

Republicans accused Democrats of playing politics. 

"Once again my colleagues from across the aisle have rushed to exploit your fears and the pain of victims to rush out a gun control measure that will do nothing to save lives," said Rep. Richard Hudson, (R) North Carolina. 

Descano described a renewed effort among prosecutors in Virginia to make a change, especially after a series of mass shootings across the country. 

"This is not a left or right, Democratic or Republican issue," he said. "This is a public safety issue."

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