RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As lawmakers convened in Richmond Tuesday for the special legislative session to debate Virginia’s gun laws, one top Virginia Republican backtracked his support for a bill he filed Monday that would have banned firearms from government buildings.
Senate Bill 4013 was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) on Monday. The bill would have toughened the penalty for the possession of any gun or weapon “designed or intended to propel a missile or projectile of any kind,” in a local government building. Sen. Norment’s bill would have made any violation a felony, not a misdemeanor as the current law does.
In a twist on Tuesday, Sen. Norment said he will ask for his bill to “be stricken” before its discussed in committee. In a statement to 8News, Norment said he does not support the bill as its currently drafted.
“When the Committee on Courts of Justice convenes today, I will ask that Senate Bill 4013 be stricken,” Sen. Norment said. “As currently drafted, the legislation represents neither my views nor my intention. I do not support – nor will I support – any measure that restricts the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.”
Norment’s disclosure comes after Sen. Bill Stanley said he planned to resign as majority whip. Sources told 8News that the Senate Republican caucus voted to decline Stanley’s resignation as whip.
The measure would have also expanded the ban to all buildings owned or used by a local government. The current law in Virginia only restricts weapons in courthouses. A spokesperson for the National Rifle Association told 8News Monday in an email that lawmakers should focus on “real solutions to crime” and not on “seeking to disarm law-abiding Virginians.”
Like every other gun control scheme proposed for this Special Session, this measure would not have prevented the tragedy at Virginia Beach. Instead of seeking to disarm law-abiding Virginians, lawmakers in Richmond ought to focus on real solutions to crime, including reforms to our broken mental health care system and enforcing laws already on the books.”Catherine Mortensen, NRA spokeswoman
The special legislative session was called by Gov. Ralph Northam in the wake of the mass shooting in Virginia Beach that left 12 dead. Last week, Northam outlined the seven gun control measures he hoped lawmakers would debate during the special session.
Stay with 8News for updates to this developing story.