Virginia governor turns attention to gun violence
by Harvest Prude
Posted 6/05/19, 11:38 am
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday called for a special legislative session to focus on gun violence after a former Virginia Beach city employee opened fire at a municipal building on Friday, killing 12 people. The Democrat, speaking at a news conference, said he would seek to pass “common sense public safety laws,” like universal background checks, banning assault style weapons, and increasing penalties for leaving firearms around children. The Virginia Beach shooting should “instill in us a new level of urgency to act,” he said.
In January, Northam introduced extensive gun control measures, including a measure to give local governments the authority to ban guns in city buildings. But the Republican majority in the state legislature rejected the proposals. GOP leadership in the General Assembly plans to introduce legislation to “stiffen penalties for those who use firearms to commit crimes, including mandatory minimum sentences,” Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox, a Republican, said.
Following the shooting, Northam traveled to Virginia Beach, Va., to meet with members of the community.
Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring, both Democrats, appeared at Northam’s news conference to lend support to his proposal. All three were engulfed in scandal earlier this year after a racist photo surfaced in February from Northam’s medical school yearbook. After an initial apology, Northam later backtracked and said he was not in the photo. Later, Fairfax faced accusations of sexual assault, and Herring admitted that he had worn blackface in the 1980s. All three managed to outlast calls for their resignations.
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