Democratic-sponsored gun bills weren’t expected to get much support in the Virginia House of Delegates. But a few pieces of legislation died a faster death than normal Thursday as the Republican House and Democratic Senate feuded over protocols for hearing testimony from lawmakers in the other chamber.
Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, who chairs the House subcommittee that handles firearm-related legislation, said Thursday afternoon that he was not allowing some Democratic senators to pitch their bills after Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, didn’t let House patrons present their bills to her Senate Education and Health Committee Thursday morning.
“I don’t know how this place works if one house or maybe specifically one person decides that they’re not going to extend the same civility and courtesy to us that they expect,” Freitas said.
The move meant the House subcommittee spent no time discussing the merits or drawbacks of bills to restrict future sales of assault-style firearms, toughen storage rules for gun owners who have minors in their home, enact stronger gun bans on college campuses or expand laws meant to remove firearms from people convicted of domestic violence or subject to restraining orders.
The Democratic patrons of those bills were present for the meeting but only briefly approached the podium one by one without getting a chance to speak to the subcommittee before their legislation was voted down.
Del. Clint Jenkins, D-Suffolk, asked Freitas to change course.
“This is a different body,” Jenkins said. “And I think we should take the high road.”
Freitas was unmoved, saying he felt it was important to send a message that “civility in the process needs to be reciprocated.”