Governor Ralph Northam

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) 

Less than two hours after beginning a special session called in response to a mass shooting, Virginia lawmakers abruptly adjourned Tuesday and postponed any movement on gun laws until after the November election.

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam summoned the Republican-led Legislature to the Capitol to address gun violence in the wake of the May 31 attack that killed a dozen people in Virginia Beach. He put forward a package of eight gun-control measures and called for “votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers” in reaction to the massacre.

But not a single vote was cast on the legislation. Republican leaders said the session was premature and politically motivated. They assigned the state’s bipartisan crime commission to study the Virginia Beach shooting and the governor’s proposed legislation.

In reply, angry Democrats said Republicans were beholden to the gun lobby and afraid of passing commonsense laws they know will save lives.

It was a familiar outcome in a stalled debate that plays out yearly in Virginia on an issue that has divided the nation for more than two decades.

“I wasn’t expecting much, but I wasn’t expecting this,” said Andy Parker, whose journalist daughter, Alison Parker, was shot to death on live TV in Virginia in 2015, along with a cameraman.

“This is just a complete, disgraceful act of cowardice by the Republicans ... And I think it’s going to backfire on them,” he said.

Republicans said it was Northam, still dealing with the fallout of a blackface scandal that almost drove him from office, who acted improperly. Instead of pushing for votes on legislation that would not have prevented the Virginia Beach shooting, they said, the governor should have called for a blue-ribbon commission to study gun and mental health issues. That is similar to what U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine did as governor following a 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech that left 32 people dead and more than a dozen wounded.

“Quite frankly, we need to take a little bit deeper look at these issues and actually do something rather than stage manage a vote in which we’re just trying to embarrass each other,” said state Sen. Mark Obenshain.

After the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, the state passed a law prohibiting people deemed seriously mentally ill from buying a gun. But a push at the time for universal background checks failed.

Virginia is generally considered a gun-friendly state and is home to the NRA headquarters. The GOP-led General Assembly has spiked numerous gun-control bills — including several Northam proposed for the special session — year after year.

Richard Keene, a 51-year-old gun owner from Chesterfield, said the session turned out to be “a lot of hype for nothing.”

“I’m a little disappointed in everyone, actually,” he said. “I don’t feel like the common, normal person, the normal American, is represented anymore. It’s frustrating.”

The special session got off to a chaotic start, with the Republican Senate majority leader averting a mutiny in the GOP caucus by publicly disavowing a gun-control bill he proposed only a day earlier.

On Monday, the leader, Tommy Norment, shocked fellow Republicans by filing surprise legislation to broadly ban guns in any government building statewide. That prompted an immediate backlash in the GOP caucus, which controls the chamber by a slim 20-19 advantage. His top vote-counter, Sen. Bill Stanley, resigned as majority whip in protest.

But the departure did not last long. Stanley said Norment apologized and asked Stanley to reconsider his resignation. The caucus quickly restored him to his position, and Norment announced that he would throw out his own bill.

Outside the Capitol, Northam led a group of gun-control supporters chanting “Enough is enough!” It has become a refrain against gun violence at rallies nationwide after repeated mass shootings.

After the adjournment, Northam issued a statement saying it was “shameful and disappointing” that Republicans “refuse to do their jobs and take immediate action to save lives.”

The Virginia Beach attack began when a civil engineer opened fire in a municipal building. The assailant was killed in a gunfight with police.

In calling for gun-control legislation, Northam also cited the fatal shooting of 9-year-old Markiya Dickson in a Richmond park during a May 26 cookout.

Gun-rights advocates also rallied outside the Capitol and filed through an office building to meet with lawmakers. Some made their way through the Capitol with handguns openly visible in holsters, which is permitted.

Jim Snyder, a 69-year-old gun owner from northern Virginia, said the Virginia Beach shooting had not moved the needle on gun issues for him one bit.

“A lot of people say, ‘Well, we’ve got to find common ground,’ which means, ‘We’ve got to find gun control that you’ll accept,’” said Snyder, who is vice president of the gun-rights group Virginia Citizens Defense League. But he said he was speaking only for himself.

Keene, who was standing outside the Capitol after most of the crowds had dissipated, said he was disappointed with the partisanship surrounding the issue.

“I believe there is some common ground for the common good that all of us could work toward,” he said.

(43) comments

hardworkingamerican

Amerigirl come up with a different catch phrase dems lie period

amerigirl

How about when you start telling the truth I'll have another catch phrase? BTW what are you talking about? What catch phrase?

jke

No one walked out the meeting adjourned. Justin Fairfax screwed the pooch by calling on a republican who made the motion. He could of called on a democrat to bring the defeated nonsense bills Northam proposed but thought it better to duck tail and run rather then suffer another inglorious defeat of poor work by the dems. Blackface, hoods and now egg on Northam's face

amerigirl

So they made a motion and walked out. I thought they were getting paid to discuss items on the agenda and deal with them. Maybe they are too stupid to use their words to discuss the issue. It was a nanny nanny boo boo you can't catch me moment for the republicans.

LetFreedomRing

Why is Racist Ralph still employed by us taxpayers?

amerigirl

Because he's good at it. How come you are accusing him of being racist without any proof?

MAGA Morons Are Governing America

People can make all the snide remarks they like about the Governor. Free county, make all the "my gun, my identity" comments too. But the one thing that really bugs me in this sorry episode is the way the lockstep GOP refused to even bother discussing it as they're paid to do. They know they hold a losing hand on the issues around doing a few sensible things about the gun epidemic. Cowards..no matter how many guns they buy.

ace10

Ah, it's the "common sense gun control" argument. Brought to you by the "women's health" brigade who has no problem murdering babies. If a pro-lifer proposes ANY sort of "common sense" limitation on abortion, these lunatics begin to scream that this is the first step in overturning Roe. And that a woman's right to choose is absolute. But when we talk about an ACTUAL right that is granted by the Constitution, then everything needs to be on the table. The gun grabbers think we're too stupid to realize the ultimate goal of "common sense gun control" is end gun ownership in America. Slow motion gun prohibition isn't going to happen. EVER.

LoudounClear

"Grab 'em by the Gun..." a new catchphrase for those of us sick to death of the gun crowd and the MAGA hats.

Loudoun4Trump

Northum is so full of stunts...klansman outfits, grandstanding by calling a special session for 2 hours, killing kids after they are born....this guy is a real winner....more like a complete embarrassment.

amerigirl

lying about the babies again? Can't you just do a fact check? Where is your proof of anything you said, all hype, no proof? The real embarrassment is the republicans like Tommy Norment, who needs to grow a spine and stick to the legislation he believes in. Or the lawmakers we are paying to do their jobs and walk out instead. This ain’t high school, they need to deal with it like adults!

ace10

Lying about other people lying again? Governor Coonman's words are well documented. No matter how many dozens of times you post to the contrary, the ugly facts remain. He said what he said. And, apparently, you have chosen to defend the murder of babies. Congrats on being so firmly entrenched on the wrong side of the the moral compass.

Loudoun4Trump

When I listen to his words where he wants to make the baby comfortable while the mother and healthcare professionals discuss life/death for the new born baby....was the governor lying to us again? is that what you are saying?

Loudoundad

Here is exactly what he said "“So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,” he went on. “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” Only an idiot would take away the governor wants to kill babies. It was an answer full off holes, to an absurd question.

amerigirl

You need some heavy duty fact checking. Try it and stop spewing your lies.

Simon

Knew this was just a stunt by Northam to distract from his racist views. He knew he didn’t have the votes for his proposal. Showboating.

amerigirl

It was the showboating republicans that walked out. What racist views, please find 1 statement from him that shows he has any racist views.

ace10

More lies from Lying McLie Face.

loudouncommonsense

The distraction ("excuse") offered by the absolutists is that any kind of gun control legislation "wouldn't have prevented "x", "y", or "z" from happening. Maybe not, BUT IT MAY PREVENT THE NEXT killing.

ace10

We should ground all airplanes permanently. That may prevent another 9/11-style attack on our nation. We should outlaw abortion, because one of those babies might grow up and find a cure for cancer. We should build a wall on our Southern border and send all illegal immigrants back home because it may prevent the next Wilbur Martinez-Guzman from committing multiple murders. Yeah, your comment really was that inane.

amerigirl

Ace do you think they have not changed laws because of the 9/11 attacks? They created the TSA, Homeland security, passed The USA Patriot Act, made major changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. So, going by your reasoning we need to make major changes to gun laws.

PoorUnfortunateSoul

The difference is is that guns are made with the purpose to inflict harm and/or damage. Even as a protectorant, they do so by their propensity to inflict harm.

tolerantleft

And my ability to carry a firearm MAY PREVENT THE NEXT killing.... Mine or my family.

LoudounClear

Or you may be one of those fools that accidentally kills somebody when it goes off unexpectedly. What was your point again?

amerigirl

So carry it, wouldn't you pass a background check and any other laws put into place? It's the crazies, criminals, and reckless that scare me.

PoorUnfortunateSoul

And none of these proposals are taking that right away if that really is your purpose.

PoorUnfortunateSoul

Sports and Hobbies > Lives. Maybe it's time to move back North...

ace10

The right to defend oneself and one's family is at the very top of a list of all human rights.

amerigirl

NOBODY wants to take away your right to protect yourself. That is just a line made up by the NRA as a scare tactic. Remember when they said Obama was going to take away your guns? Or Rep. Eric Swalwell? or after mass killings?

PoorUnfortunateSoul

None of the proposed legislation would prevent that. Yes it makes it more difficult, but why is that a problem when the same weapons that protect you, can also be easily used to purposefully kill someone else?

tolerantleft

Don't let the door hit you on the way back north. Bye Felicia.

PoorUnfortunateSoul

I'd rather get hit by a door than a bullet.

Chris McHale

"I'm a little disappointed with everyone, actually ... I don't feel like the common, normal person, the normal American is represented anymore. It's frustrating." Could not have said it better. Politicians are representing their parties not their constituents.

Locojrt

It could not have been said better. POLITICS NOT PEOPLE! I'm ashamed of all of them. Thete is a common ground but you could put a cop on eery corner and if a nut with a gun wants to shoot someone, he will; i.e. DC, if the guns are there no matter how much protection, something will happen. More resource officers at schools will solve nothing. Locking doors and no BS wandering in and out with security windows to admit would go further. When church services start, the door is locked. If you're late, you wait for the next service. Common sense security measures need to be implemented and common sense for gun control. This is a different day and age and the right and the left refuse to compromise. Our politicians are all an embarrassment.

tolerantleft

Sanity prevailed, TONS of Pro Second Amendment Americans rallied to protect their rights at the state house. Not one of the bills proposed by the Lib Dems would changed the recent shooting. The bills were sent to sub com for study.

amerigirl

It takes time. They did pass a law that would have prevented the Va Tech massacre. Why would it hurt to pass a few more laws to protect people and still give individuals their right to bare arms?

jke

I would be willing to bet Northam's wife is just as frustrated as the extreme democrats.

loudouncommonsense

Time for right-thinking Virginians to turn out in November...AND turn out of office the obstructionists who continue to resist what a majority of Virginian sportsmen and women want.

Loudoundad

There is good news. We have an open seat for the Virginia Senate right here in Loudoun. And the difference between the two candidates for that seat on this issue is night and day. I beg all Mom's and Dad's, and young voters in the district, to come out and cast a vote on this issue, and send the person on the wrong side of the issue home. Keep in mind, If the candidate is sane on this issue, he his most likely sane on most other issues.

amerigirl

I think they have already proven that the majority of gun owners want common sense gun laws. For stricter background checks the latest polls with four polling experts indicate support is at 90 percent.The obstructionist would then be those who walked out. ow many years have they had,since the Tech shooting alone, to do research on this?

marv

"Removing Firearms from honest people will have little affect on those not similarly inclined" (Jefferson). "Gun Free Zones", like "No Fire Zones" are areas designed by idiots that only get the unprotected killed. What part of "Shall not be Infringed" don't you understand? Also, since when did criminals pay any attention to the Law?? "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns"

ace10

Please do spell out these "common sense gun laws" that you are advocating. Feel free to copy 'n paste from your preferred gun grabbing source. And then, in your own words, explain EXACTLY how these laws are materially different from what is on the books now AND how they would make anyone more safe? Then, for extra credit, please tell the class if these proposals are represent the final and complete set of goals for gun control advocates.

marv

They use the term "Common Sense" to placate when their ultimate goal is removal. These stooges don't you to remember that every Government that has disarmed its people made them helpless victims, Laws only affect the "Law Abiding".

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