In the wake of a mass killing at a municipal building in Virginia Beach Friday that left twelve dead, Gov. Ralph Northam is calling on lawmakers to meet for a special session to enact tougher gun laws.
“No one should go to work, to school, or to church wondering if they will come home,” said Gov. Northam. “But that is what our society has come to, because we fail to act on gun violence… I will be asking for votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers.”
The date for the session has yet to be scheduled but the legislative agenda is very clear. Gov. Northam said he would be asking the General Assembly to vote on all of the following:
- Universal background checks;
- A ban on assault weapons, to include suppressors and bump stocks;
- An extreme risk protective order;
- Reinstating the one-gun-a-month law;
- Child access prevention;
- Requiring people to report lost and stolen firearms; and
- Expanding local authority to regulate firearms, including in government buildings.
“None of these ideas are radical,” said Northam, who indicated that magazines with a capacity holding more than 10 rounds may also be on the chopping block. “None of them violate the Second Amendment. None of them would impair any of my fellow Virginia hunters or sportsmen.”
Northam had proposed a similar package of gun control measures in January of this year. But all stalled out in the GOP-controlled General Assembly.
The governor, a Democrat who campaigned on stricter gun laws in 2017, believes that Friday’s tragedy created a “new level of urgency to act” and if lawmakers can “save one life because we acted now, it is worth it.”
“It is right to respond to this tragedy with decisive action,” said Northam. “Let Virginia set an example for the nation that we can respond to tragedy with action. That we can turn pain into purpose.”
The killer at Virginia Beach reportedly did not have a felony conviction nor any other disqualifying record that would keep him from purchasing a firearm from an FFL. In fact, ATF investigators said he lawfully purchased the pistols he used in the attack. One was bought in 2016, the other in 2018, reports The Associated Press.
Northam exclaimed, “I want this to be the last time.” But none of what the governor is proposing would have stopped the killer at Virginia Beach. More troubling, none of what he is proposing guarantees it will be the last mass killing, as Alan Gottlieb from the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms observed in a recent press release.
“We’ve got a news flash for Northam,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “The killer in Virginia Beach had already passed multiple background checks, including an enhanced check to legally purchase a suppressor. The incident didn’t involve a so-called ‘assault weapon,’ but two handguns. There was no indication that the gunman was an extreme risk to anybody, and this awful event didn’t involve a child gaining access to any firearm.
“So tell us, Ralph,” he continued, “just what part of your extremist gun control wish list do you think would have prevented what happened in Virginia Beach?”
“What happened Friday in Virginia Beach was undeniably a tragedy,” Gottlieb concluded, “and it would be another tragedy for Northam to penalize millions of honest Virginia gun owners for the senseless act of a lone, disturbed individual. Northam’s extremist mandates would not prevent a single crime or save a single life.”