RICHMOND, Va. — A state House subcommittee controlled by Democrats rejected a raft of Republican-sponsored bills to loosen restrictions on firearms Tuesday, one day after a massive gun rights rally at the state Capitol and over the passionate objections of a man who lost his wife in last year’s mass shooting in Virginia Beach.

Among the defeated bills was one that would have allowed Virginians to carry concealed weapons without a permit and to bring firearms into places of worship.

“I think what we saw today is this is a new day in Virginia,” said Del. Jeffrey Bourne, D-Richmond, chairman of the firearms subcommittee of the House Public Safety Committee. “We’re going to go beyond thoughts and prayers. We’re going to give voters laws that will make Virginia safer.”

A day earlier, an estimated 22,000 people flocked to the Capitol for a gun rights rally that drew militia groups from across the country. Some of the rallygoers came to Tuesday’s meeting dressed in protest attire.

Jason Nixon, whose wife, Kate, was one of 12 people killed by a gunman in a Virginia Beach, Virginia, municipal building May 31, emotionally urged the committee to support a bill allowing victims to sue the government for damages if they are shot in gun-free zones.

Nixon said his wife had feared for her safety the day before the shooting – not because of the eventual gunman, but because another employee had been fired. But she did not take a gun to work because firearms were not allowed.

“She obeyed the law and she’s dead now,” Nixon said.

Committee members seemed moved by his testimony, as did Lori Hass, a veteran gun-control activist whose daughter survived being shot during the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. But she said she and others have been urging the General Assembly for 12 years to impose restrictions, and the committee voted against that measure.

Virginia’s General Assembly is poised to enact sweeping gun-control legislation this year after voters gave Democrats majorities in the General Assembly. With full control of the legislature and governor’s mansion for the first time in 26 years, the party has promised to usher in a new era in a state that’s home to both the National Rifle Association and proud rural traditions.

Even before any legislation had passed, a House-Senate committee with the power to impose rules on legislative buildings without review from other lawmakers permanently banned guns from the Capitol and an adjacent office building.

An annual rally Monday staged on Capitol Square by the Virginia Citizens Defense League drew activists from around the country who were alarmed by the drastically altered political landscape in Virginia. Ahead of the event, Gov. Ralph Northam, D, declared a state of emergency last week, temporarily banning guns from the Capitol grounds.

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