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Va. Governor Calls Special Legislative Session, Targets New Gun Control Laws

06-04-2019
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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (Image Credit: Virginia.gov)
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (Image Credit: Virginia.gov)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is calling a special session of the legislature with the hope of passing new gun control laws.  

Northam's action is in response to Friday's mass shooting in Virginia Beach. In his statement, the Democratic governor first paid tribute to the first responders who acted quickly in the shooting and he called on Virginia lawmakers to act as second responders to try to put end to this kind of violence.  

Some, however, see his move as more politics than protection.

"I will be asking for votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers," the governor said. 

Northam showed frustration as he stood at the podium Tuesday after spending the weekend comforting the families of the Virginia Beach victims. The governor said saying it's happened again, harkening back to the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, where more than 30 people were murdered. 

"Once more hearts are broken, lives are shattered and families are crushed," Northam said.

The governor is calling for a special legislative session where he'll push for gun legislation that Republicans blocked in the last session to include:

  • Universal background checks
  • A  ban on assault weapons including suppressors like the one used by the Virginia Beach shooter
  • Reinstating the one handgun a month law 
  • Expanding local authority to regulate firearms

"Virginians deserve leadership and they will be watching," Northam added. "The nation will be watching."

Republican House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox fired back in a statement, saying: "The governor's call to special Session is hasty and suspect when considered against the backdrop of the last few months."

It was an apparent reference to the months' long investigation into whether Northam appeared in blackface in a college yearbook picture. The final result was inconclusive.

"The governor's call to special session is more likely to inflame political tensions than to produce substantive policy changes," Cox's statement continued. 

The issue just as divisive at the federal level. Senate Democrat Joe Manchin (D-WV) on CBS' "Face The Nation."

"I'm just asking my Republican colleagues and friends to use some commons sense and let's do things that will protect the public," he said. 

"You have laws on the books that make murder illegal, and yet people still do it," Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told NBC's "Meet The Press. "Laws are not going to fix everything."

"As I said this weekend in Virginia Beach, God is in control but we must do more than give our thoughts and prayers," Northam noted. "We must give Virginians the action they deserve.

The special session will convene in two weeks.  Republicans say while the governor can call the session, he cannot dictate what is discussed and they plan to use that time to talk about tougher sentences for those who use firearms while committing crimes.

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