Virginia Governor Calls Special Session to Tackle Gun Violence

June 4, 2019 by Dan McCue

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam called lawmakers back to the state Capitol Tuesday to address the issue of gun violence in the wake of last week’s mass shooting in Virginia Beach.

“No one should go to work, to school, or to church wondering if they will come home,” Northam said during a 10 a.m. press conference.

“But that is what our society has come to, because we fail to act on gun violence,” he said. “I will be asking for votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers.”

Northam, a Democrat, went on to issue a challenge to the Republican-controlled General Assembly, saying he wants each legislator to go on record as for or against his proposals.

“The nation will be watching,” he said.

The governor’s challenge came just four days after a municipal employee in Virginia Beach, DeWayne Craddock, quit his job via email and then showed up at his former workplace armed with two semi-automatic handguns, a silencer and extended ammunition magazines.

He then killed 12 people in a municipal building, before being shot to death himself in a shootout with police.

The package of legislation Northam wants the General Assembly to pass includes a ban on high-capacity magazines and silencers; mandatory, universal background checks before gun purchases; a limit of one handgun purchase per month; a broadening of the ability of local governments to limit guns in municipal buildings; and a “red flag” law that would allow authorities to seize the weapons of people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Republican Assembly Speaker Kirk Cox dismissed the governor’s actions, saying while Northam can call a special session, he cannot specify what the General Assembly chooses to consider.

“We intend to use that time to take productive steps to address gun violence by holding criminals accountable with tougher sentences — including mandatory minimums,” Cox said.

In a longer statement posted to the Virginia House GOP website, Cox called the governor’s call to special session “hasty and suspect.”

“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,” Cox said. “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.”

He went on to say that when the special session convenes, he and members of his party 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,” Cox said.

The mass shooting in Virginia Beach came amidst an election year for the state. All 140 legislative seats are up for grabs this year, and given the slim majorities the GOP holds in both the state House and Senate, the Democrats are thought to have a realistic chance of taking back control of the General Assembly.

After the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, in which a student with a history of mental problems shot 32 people to death, the state passed a law prohibiting people adjudicated as seriously mentally ill from buying a gun. But a drive for universal background checks failed.

Northam said in 2017, the last year for which complete statistics are available, 1,028 Virginians died as a result of gun violence.

“That’s almost three people a day. Incredibly, that is more deaths than those due to vehicle accidents,” he said.

He then switched gears and spoke of the first responders who arrived at the active crime scene in Virginia Beach “in less than two minutes” and “acted to save lives.”

“Now, I am calling on the elected officials of this Commonwealth to become second responders,” he said to the members of the General Assembly. “Your duty is clear: rush to the scene, and put a stop to this violence. Heal our Commonwealth. Show Virginians that it doesn’t matter what party you are in, we are all Virginians first, and we care about the safety and security of every Virginian, no matter who they are or where they live.”

State News

Iowa Canvassing Board Certifies Republican As Winner Of 2nd District Race
State News
Iowa Canvassing Board Certifies Republican As Winner Of 2nd District Race
November 30, 2020
by Dan McCue

In the end, it came down to a razor thin margin of six votes out of 394,441 cast, but that was margin enough for the Iowa state canvassing board Monday to declare Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks winner of the state's hotly contested 2nd Congressional District race. On... Read More

Q&A: Some Burning Questions for Georgia's Senate Runoffs
State News
Q&A: Some Burning Questions for Georgia's Senate Runoffs

ATLANTA — There are a few certainties about the all-important runoffs in Georgia: The Jan. 5 contests will decide control of the U.S. Senate, set soaring spending records, attract the shiniest stars from both parties and put Georgia at the center of the political universe. But much remains up in the air about... Read More

GOP Candidate Clings to 8-vote Lead in US House Race in Iowa
State News
GOP Candidate Clings to 8-vote Lead in US House Race in Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Republican candidate saw her vote lead dwindle to single digits Wednesday in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District as a dramatic recount moved toward a conclusion in a race that will help determine the size of Democrats’ majority in the House of... Read More

High Court Blocks NY Coronavirus Limits on Houses of Worship
Supreme Court
High Court Blocks NY Coronavirus Limits on Houses of Worship

WASHINGTON (AP) — As coronavirus cases surge again nationwide the Supreme Court late Wednesday barred New York from enforcing certain limits on attendance at churches and synagogues in areas designated as hard hit by the virus. The justices split 5-4 with new Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the... Read More

Uncalled House Race in Iowa Grows Ever Tighter
2020 Elections
Uncalled House Race in Iowa Grows Ever Tighter
November 25, 2020
by Dan McCue

Throughout the 2020 election cycle a persistent narrative was just how divided the United States has become. But an as-yet uncalled House race in Iowa is taking the concept of a nation equally divided between Republicans and Democrats to a whole new level. Since Monday, the... Read More

Pennsylvania Suspends Alcohol Sales at Bars, Restaurants on Thanksgiving Eve
State News
Pennsylvania Suspends Alcohol Sales at Bars, Restaurants on Thanksgiving Eve
November 25, 2020
by Dan McCue

HARRISBURG, Pa. - It wasn't the kind of breaking news one expected while scanning Pennsylvania's all news radio stations for word on the state certifying the 2020 election results. "Now back to our top story," one news anchor after another said over the course of the... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top