WASHINGTON (WRIC) — U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to allow a debate and vote to be held on legislation expanding federal background checks on gun sales while on the Senate floor Wednesday. Sen. Kaine spoke with emotion about the mass shooting in Virginia Beach and the gun violence he has seen in Richmond.
The Bipartisan Background Checks Act passed the House in February. The bill prevents any firearm sale to be done between private parties before the manufacturer, importer or licensed gun dealer completes a background check on the gun.
“We deserve a vote. These matters shouldn’t just sit here on the Senate Calendar day after day, week after week, month after month without the opportunity for a vote,” Sen. Kaine said.
Kaine held a gun control roundtable in Richmond this week with the families of the victims of gun violence. Mark Whitfield addressed the death of his daughter, 9-year-old Markiya Dickson, who was killed in a shooting at Carter Jones Park on May 26.
“We still cry every morning,” Whitfield said during the roundtable. “We still cry every night when we go to sleep.”
Kaine’s Senate floor speech and the roundtable comes before Virginia lawmakers head back to the General Assembly for a special session to take up gun control legislation proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam. The session, called in the wake of the Virginia Beach tragedy, is scheduled for July 9.
“I was the mayor of Richmond when we had one of the highest homicide rates in the United States, driven by gun violence,” Sen. Kaine said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “I was the governor of Virginia when the shooting happened at Virginia Tech. I was in the United States Senate when two Virginia journalists were murdered on live television, by a disgruntled ex-colleague.”
“So, that’s why I take the floor today, thinking about these tragedies in Virginia and the repetitive nature of them,” Sen. Kaine continued.
Virginia Republicans have opposed Gov. Northam’s proposals for the upcoming special session, including the governor’s call for universal background checks.
“We intend to use that time to take productive steps to address gun violence by holding criminals accountable with tougher sentences — including mandatory minimums,” Speaker of the House Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) said in a statement.
You can watch Sen. Kaine’s speech on the Senate floor here.