Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Tuesday called an emergency meeting to discuss control after Friday's tragic shooting in Virginia Beach that left 12 dead. Specifically Northam wanted ban all semi-automatic firearms (basically all guns), suppressors (which are heavily regulated already) and enact red flag laws.
Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox (R) disagreed with Northam's assessment.
The terrible shooting that occurred in Virginia Beach just four days ago is still painfully fresh for everyone, especially the 12 families that lost loved ones. First and foremost, we continue to pray for the victims, thank the first responders, and extend our gratitude to law enforcement for their dedication to the safety of that community.
The Governor’s call to Special Session is hasty and suspect when considered against the backdrop of the last few months. While the Governor can call a special session, he cannot specify what the General Assembly chooses to consider or how we do our work. We intend to use that time to take productive steps to address gun violence by holding criminals accountable with tougher sentences — including mandatory minimums.
Following the tragedy at Virginia Tech in 2007 and 2017’s shooting in Parkland, Florida, Virginia took a very deliberative approach that ultimately ended in substantive and bipartisan reforms to keep our communities safer. The governor’s call to Special Session is more likely to inflame political tensions than produce substantive public policy changes that will keep people safe.
We believe addressing gun violence starts with holding criminals accountable for their actions, not infringing on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. When the Special Session convenes, Republicans will put forward a package of legislation to stiffen penalties for those who use firearms to commit crimes, including mandatory minimum sentences. These steps, combined with our ongoing efforts to strengthen the mental and behavioral health system, are the best ways to keep our communities safe from those who commit violence with guns.
The House of Delegates will convene upon the Governor’s call as constitutionally required and work within the rules we adopt and the regular legislative process to consider any matter before us. Our actions will be based on sound public policy and the best interests of the Commonwealth.
The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Chairman Alan Gottlieb released the following statement about Northam's call:
We’ve got a news flash for Northam. 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, just what part of your extremist gun control wish list do you think would have prevented what happened in Virginia Beach?
It’s never too soon to show the emperor has no clothes. Northam has dusted off the same ragged old gun prohibition agenda that has been proposed by other anti-rights politicians in the past and rejected time after time. None of the things he wants would have made even the slightest difference, and he knows it.
The Virginia Beach killer purchased his guns in 2016 and last year. This was no spur-of-the-moment decision that might have been averted by any of Northam’s recommendations, including the governor’s one-gun-per-month purchase limitation scheme.
What happened Friday in Virginia Beach was undeniably a tragedy 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.
The National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action's director of public affairs, Jennifer Baker, released the following statement:
Gov. Northam is following the gun control playbook by exploiting a tragedy to push his failed political agenda. The fact is none of the governor's gun control proposals would have prevented the horrible tragedy at Virginia Beach. If Gov. Northam is genuinely interested in pursuing policies that will save lives, he should focus on prosecuting violent criminals and fixing our broken mental health system, instead of blaming Virginia's law-abiding gun owners for the act of a deranged murderer.
Virginia had more prescription overdose deaths than firearm-related homicides last year, and more drug overdoses than all firearm-related deaths. If it's just about saving one life, wonder why Dr. Northam hasn't called for a special session to deal with this epidemic? https://t.co/sX2KyrWOvB— Cam Edwards (@CamEdwards) June 4, 2019
He should his homework before he gets in front of a mic. He clearly doesn’t know firearm laws. https://t.co/3gfCnZcxTe— Beth Baumann (@eb454) June 4, 2019
Virginia Democrat Governor Ralph Northam wants to:— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) June 4, 2019
-Ban all semi-auto firearms and suppressors
-Enact unconstitutional red flag laws
-Prohibit people from buying more than 1 gun per month
-Allow local governments to enact further bans
None of this would've prevented the tragedy pic.twitter.com/oR8KEPCMqn