Governor Ralph Northam has shown leadership by calling the General Assembly into Special Session on July 9 to address gun violence in the aftermath of yet another mass shooting – this one in Virginia Beach, which took thirteen lives. The Governor and those of us who support gun safety measures realize the challenges ahead; Republicans, who hold a slim majority in the House and Senate and chair the committees, have been consistently reluctant to discuss measures supported by many Americans to cut down on gun violence and mass shootings.
Immediately after the Governor issued his call, Republican leaders leapt to brand it as “hasty;” in their view, it is never a good time to act against gun violence. Even as the statewide Special Committee on School Safety spent months last year working on many different aspects of safety for our children, the Speaker prohibited us from including gun safety measures in our discussions. In the last General Assembly session, nearly 35 measures were proposed to help combat gun violence and increase gun safety (two by me). The House bills, and the only one that made it through the Senate, were referred to a small House subcommittee controlled by rural conservative Republicans, where they all died. For years, gun safety bills have not been allowed to come to the House floor for a vote. After the Virginia Beach tragedy, many of us hoped that minds will change and that some of these measures can pass. [Read more…]