The General Assembly convened Tuesday in Richmond to consider Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposals on changing gun and public safety laws in the wake of Virginia’s most recent mass shooting incident.
Lawmakers adjourned after roughly 90 minutes.
In between, they passed several measures: Memorial resolutions honoring the 12 Virginia Beach shooting victims and other notable people who have passed on; commending resolutions for a variety of people and organizations; and a bill calling for special license plates to memorialize the Virginia Beach tragedy.
They took no action on gun or public safety bills, though dozens had been filed.
The Republican House and Senate majorities instead asked the Virginia Crime Commission to review the Virginia Beach incident and proposed legislation. Lawmakers will reconvene Nov. 18 — after elections. All 140 House and Senate seats will be on the ballot.
Democrats trashed their Republican colleagues over the early adjournment, calling them cowards who ran away from their jobs.
“We will make sure on Nov. 5th that their 90 minutes on the floor today are their last 90 minutes in the majority,” Democratic Party of Virginia Chair Susan Swecker said in a press statement Tuesday.
The offices of Republican Del. Terry Kilgore and Republican state Sen. Ben Chafin did not respond to questions regarding the brief legislative session.
However, an aide to Republican Del. Todd Pillion pointed to a press statement from Pillion’s election campaign. Pillion is running for the Senate seat to be vacated by retiring Republican Bill Carrico.
“Virginians I talk to are frustrated — they’re frustrated that we have a governor who is more interested in his own political rehabilitation than following the will of the people,” Pillion said. “Just a few months ago, the people — through their General Assembly members — voted to defeat many of the same proposals put forward for this special session.”
Noting the decision to refer the bills to the crime commission, Pillion added, “We are committed to a thoughtful and deliberative process based on facts and evidence, not political talking points.”
Pillion noted that the governor has conceded that his proposals might not have prevented the late May Virginia Beach shootings.
Northam on July 3 announced his legislative agenda for the special session. His proposals include:
• Legislation requiring background checks on all firearms sales and transactions. The bill mandates that any person selling, renting, trading or transferring a firearm must first obtain the results of a background check before completing the transaction.
• Legislation banning dangerous weapons. This will include bans on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, bump stocks and silencers.
• Legislation to reinstate Virginia’s law allowing only one handgun purchase within a 30-day period.
• Legislation requiring that lost and stolen firearms be reported to law enforcement within 24 hours.
• Legislation creating an “extreme risk protective order,” allowing law enforcement and the courts to temporarily separate a person from firearms if the person exhibits dangerous behavior that presents an immediate threat to self or others.
• Legislation prohibiting all individuals subject to final protective orders from possessing firearms. The bill expands Virginia law, which currently prohibits individuals subject to final protective orders of family abuse from possessing firearms.
• Legislation enhancing the punishment for allowing access to a loaded, unsecured firearm by a child from a Class 3 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony. The bill also raises the age of the child from 14 to 18.
• Legislation enabling localities to enact firearms ordinances that are stricter than state law. This includes regulating firearms in municipal buildings, libraries and at permitted events.