When Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) isn’t trying to figure out if it was actually him in the picture wearing the Klan hood, he is pushing gun control. Now he is taking a page from the Rahm Emanuel playbook and calling a special legislative session of the Virginia General Assembly to push for more gun control after the murders in Virginia Beach.
Northam was joined by Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring, all Democrats, at a news conference with other Democratic leaders to challenge the Republicans who control the General Assembly and have repeatedly stifled efforts to consider any form of gun control.
“It’s time for decisive action,” Northam said. “Let Virginia show the nation that we can respond to tragedy with decisive action.”
Most gun-control bills have failed in previous sessions of the legislature, including those that would broaden the ability of local governments to limit firearms in public buildings, mandate universal background checks, limit purchases to one handgun per month and allow authorities to seize the weapons of a person found to be a threat to themselves or others. The bills have usually been killed in committee and not progressed to the full legislature for a vote.
Northam said he wants the General Assembly to debate and vote on the bills.
“These are common sense pieces of legislation we have introduced them year after year,” he said. “They have never received a fair hearing. … I want these pieces of common sense gun safety legislation to get to the floor and let these individuals elected by you, the people, to come to the floor and cast their vote.”
Gun control activists are also calling for a ban on “high capacity magazines” (sic). Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R-James City County) said in an interview that “none of the failed legislation met standards for merits, practical application, and efficacy.” That said, Norment might be open to restricting magazines to 10 rounds.
Specifically, Norment said he expects the General Assembly to tackle large-capacity or extended magazines.
“An extended magazine is optical, but does it change the outcome, I’m not sure, but it’s something the citizens like this would say at least it’s an incremental effort to do something,” Norment said. “At least that is an issue that it’s very easy to resolve.”
Norment did vote against a similar ban earlier this year in committee. Those pushing for a mag ban ought to view Joe Huffman’s video on reload times made after Gabby Giffords was shot in Tucson.
As to Northam’s proposals, let’s examine whether they would have done anything to have stopped the murders in Virginia Beach.
Limiting firearms in municipal buildings? The killer was a municipal employee of Virginia Beach and had access to secured sections of the municipal building. He would have also known how to avoid any metal detection devices.
Universal background checks? The guy passed background checks on both of his firearms.
Limit purchases to one handgun per month? He bought one handgun in 2016 and the other in 2018.
Red flag law? The killer had no history of violent actions, interacted normally with another employee in a bathroom before starting his killing spree, had no disciplinary problems at work, and had received a satisfactory evaluation on his last performance evaluation at work.
Finally, with regard to President Trump and his “I don’t like them” attitude towards suppressors, the killer purchased his suppressor legally. That means he bought a highly regulated product, paid a $200 tax, had to submit fingerprints and pictures, and go through a BATFE background check while waiting probably 6-9 months before taking possession of his suppressor.
Virginia gun owners have a fight on their hands if they don’t want to become the New Jersey of the South. When the Republican Majority Leader is waffling on standard capacity magazines, it is time to start to put the pressure on.