In the wake of Virginia Beach, Governor Ralph Northam hoped to throw off the controversy of him prancing around college in blackface and instead focus on gun control. He called for a special session with the intention of pushing the GOP controlled legislature into action.
Well, they acted. The adjourned less than two hours after being called to order.
Unfortunately, they can’t do that anymore. Following Tuesday’s election results, the days of GOP control of the legislature are officially over, at least for now. So too are the days of Virginia not trying to infringe on people’s gun rights.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is promising to reintroduce a slate of “commonsense” gun control measures after Democrats gained control of both houses of the General Assembly for the first time since 1994.
Northam said on CNN’s “New Day” early Wednesday morning that he planned to reintroduce a package of laws addressing gun violence during the next legislative session.
“Things like universal background checks. Getting rid of bump stocks, high volume magazines, ‘red flag’ laws. These are commonsense pieces of legislation,” he said. “I will introduce those again in January. And I’m convinced, with the majority now in the House and the Senate, they’ll become law and because of that Virginia will be safer.”
The governor went on to argue that the results signaled that voters wanted state lawmakers to take action on issues such as gun safety and climate change.
Northam convened a special session of the state legislature earlier this year following a mass shooting in Virginia Beach, Va., that left 13 people dead. The session was called to consider a package of bills that included expanding background checks and placing limits on devices that suppress the sounds of gunshots like the one the Virginia Beach gunman used. Other proposals included a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
But Republican lawmakers quickly blocked consideration of the bills Northam put forth when the session convened. Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox (R) knocked the special session as an “election-year stunt.”
In fairness, Cox was right. That’s precisely what it was.
However, that doesn’t mean it didn’t work. Nevermind that none of the proposals would have prevented Virginia Beach, it was an election-year stunt.
Now, Virginian will need to dig in and prepare for an uphill battle. Just because Democrats won doesn’t mean they’re willing to go whole hog on gun control. Virginia, as a state, hasn’t necessarily changed as much as Northam may like to think. A lot of voters might be willing to support expanding background checks a bit–though I doubt they’ll be thrilled with true universal background checks as they’ve been implemented other places–and with some red flag law, but will they be ready to go that far?
Regardless, though, the real beneficiary of Tuesday night in the short term are Virginia gun dealers who will be selling AR-15s like hotcakes for the foreseeable future. Those are guns that likely wouldn’t have been bought otherwise, thus pushing more of those firearms into circulation than would have otherwise.
But that’s something anti-gunners never think about.
In the meantime, though, Virginia gun rights activists have a fight to get ready for.