Today, the Virginia Governor Ralph ‘Coonman‘ Northam suffered a humiliating defeat in his effort to politically exploit the Virginia Beach spree killing. He called the legislature to a special session to consider a host of radical gun control measures in an effort to capitalize on a tragedy and make some political hay in an election year.
Of course, the Demanding Moms also turned out to show their support for re-creating past tyrannies with their support for gun control. And the Virginia Citizens Defense League called out gun owners to oppose Northam’s political theater.
WVIR covered the story:
Advocates for gun control and for gun rights showed up at the State Capitol Tuesday to represent their cause as the General Assembly meets for a special session to discuss gun control.
After a Virginia Beach city employee shot and killed 12 people on May 31, Northam ordered the special session, calling for passage of a wide range of gun-control measures. The session got underway Tuesday.
Yes, the special session did get underway today. And barely two hours later, the legislature adjourned until November, handing Northam a humiliating political defeat.
From The Washington Post:
The Latest on Virginia’s special legislative session to consider stricter gun laws after another mass shooting (all times local):
The Virginia General Assembly has voted to adjourn until November, as Republicans rejected Democrats’ request to vote on a series of gun control measures.
Just what did Governor Coonman want to impose upon residents? The VCDL has a list:
- Red Flag laws – forget the unconstitutionality of this law, no one thought the Virginia Beach murderer to be a threat, so that law would have changed nothing
- Universal Background Checks – the Virginia Beach murderer passed at least two background checks, just like the Virginia Tech murderer. And street thugs don’t go through background checks to get their guns
- One Handgun a Month – the murderer bought the two handguns he used a year apart, not even a month apart
- “Assault Weapon” ban – no “assault weapons” were used in the Virginia Beach massacre. Long guns are rarely ever used in crime
- Magazine-capacity limits – the commission on the Virginia Tech massacre concluded that restricting magazine size would not have changed the outcome
- Silencer/suppressor ban – it is extremely rare that a lawfully owned suppressor is used in a crime. They are not popular with criminals because 1) the gun shot is still loud and 2) it doubles the length of a handgun, making it much more difficult to conceal
- Bump-stock ban – bump stocks have only been used in one crime, out in Nevada and there is no evidence that it increased the number of injuries or fatalities
- Allow local government to implement gun control (get rid of firearm pre-emption law) – the Virginia Beach government building was already a “gun-free zone.” What are they going to do, make it a double-gun-free-zone? This legislation would make gun laws in Virginia extremely hard to comply with, benefiting criminals, who don’t care about laws, and dissuading good people due to the complexities of carrying legally as they travel through the state
- Punish those who’ve had a gun stolen if they don’t report it quick enough – as if having your gun stolen isn’t bad enough, you will get punished by the State if you don’t report it fast enough. How do you prove you reported the theft within the arbitrary timeframe the law would require?
- Charge gun owners with a felony if a child has access to loaded gun – this includes a “child” who is a 17-year-old, has broken into your locked house, and found a loaded gun in your nightstand! There have been many cases where someone under 18 has used a firearm to save their life during a home invasion. That would get the parent a felony charge under this law.
Obviously, Northam’s little stunt served as some red meat for his supporters. But few probably thought the special session would adjourned moments after coming to order.
Here’s the AP’s full report:
GOP-led Virginia legislature abruptly adjourns gun session
Less than two hours after beginning a special session called in response to a mass shooting, Virginia lawmakers abruptly adjourned Tuesday without taking any action and postponed any movement on gun control until after the November election.
The session on gun violence called by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam 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 had proposed only the day before.
Lawmakers were summoned to the Capitol to consider a package of eight gun-control measures proposed by Northam, who has called for “votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers” in response to the killing of a dozen people by a city worker in Virginia Beach in late May.
House Speaker Kirk Cox said the session was premature because the shooting is still being investigated.
“The whole thing is just an election-year stunt,” Cox said.
Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment shocked his fellow Republicans by filing surprise legislation Monday to broadly ban guns in any government building statewide. It 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.
“Sometimes you just got to stand for principle,” Stanley said.
But the departure did not last long. Stanley said Norment apologized during a Senate caucus meeting shortly before the session started and asked Stanley to reconsider his resignation. Stanley said he was the sole vote against himself when the caucus restored him as majority whip.
Norment — who is married to a lobbyist for the city of Virginia Beach — then announced that he was spiking his own bill and would not support “any measure that restricts the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.”
If Republicans had remained unified, Northam’s package of bills stood little chance of passage. The GOP holds a wider majority in the House, where Republicans have accused the governor of trying to exploit the tragedy for political gain. Rather than approve gun controls, they signaled a focus on increasing penalties for wrongdoers after gun crimes have been committed.
Outside the Capitol, Northam led a group of gun-control supporters in chants of “Enough is Enough!”
Gun-control supporters began their demonstration on Capitol Square by reading out the names of the state’s recent gun violence victims, including those in Virginia Beach. Northam then led them in the “Enough is Enough!” chant that has become a refrain against gun violence at rallies nationwide in the wake of repeated mass shootings. Others carried signs decrying the killings of children, and shouted “You vote today, we vote in November.”
“Hopefully we’ll be heard and the Virginia Legislature will take action to enact sensible gun laws,” said Jeff Wells, 64, his voice hoarse from chanting.
A smaller group of gun rights advocates rallied across the Capitol lawn. They said many others were inside meeting with lawmakers and that a larger rally was planned Tuesday afternoon.
Some gun-rights advocates were walking around inside the Capitol with handguns in holsters openly visible, which is permitted. Visitors to the House gallery can keep their guns, and while they are not permitted on the Senate side, some lawmakers bring guns with them onto the floor.
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.
“I haven’t done anything wrong, and they want to take guns away from me,” Snyder, vice president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League.
“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,'” he said.
Snyder speculated that Northam called the special session to divert attention from the scandal he faced over a racist yearbook photo, or perhaps to motivate Democrats hoping to retake control of the Legislature in November.
Some people carried poster-sized signs of the photo that appeared on Northam’s yearbook page decades ago, showing one person wearing blackface and another the robe and cap of the Ku Klux Klan.