The Virginia General Assembly’s special session on gun control ended almost before it began today. Gov. Ralph Northam had convened the session to consider new gun safety laws following the May 31 shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal building that killed 12 people.
But within minutes, the Republican-led legislature adjourned without taking any action, bringing cries of outrage from Democrats and the many gun control activists who had assembled in Richmond to watch the action.
“I called legislators back to Richmond for this special session so we could take immediate action to address the gun violence emergency that takes more than a thousand Virginians’ lives each year,” Northam said after the unexpected adjournment. “I expected lawmakers to take this seriously. I expected them to do what their constituents elected them to do—discuss issues and take votes.”
“An average of three Virginians die each day due to gun violence. That means hundreds of Virginians may die between today and November 18, the next day the legislature plans to work,” Northam said. “It is shameful and disappointing that Republicans in the General Assembly refuse to do their jobs, and take immediate action to save lives. I expected better of them. Virginians expect better of them.”
Senate Minority Leader Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said that Republicans had “totally abdicated their responsibility,” according to a Washington Post report. “The Republicans in this state are totally controlled—I mean 100 percent – controlled by the National Rifle Association.”
Attorney General Mark Herring said the GOP’s action “pathetic.”
“Virginians deserve better. There were important measures introduced that could save lives and keep Virginians safe, like universal background checks, a ban on high capacity magazines, silencers, bump stocks, and assault weapons, a reinstatement of the one handgun a month law, and red flag laws,” Herring said. “But instead of a thoughtful discussion about how to keep our communities safe, Republicans in the General Assembly packed up and went home, but not before making sure they got paid for the day.”