Lawmakers decide to push special session on gun control until after November’s elections

Politics

Session adjourned until Nov. 18

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia lawmakers met in Richmond to discuss a package of gun-control bills during Tuesday’s special legislative session. Before voting on any legislation, the Republican-led General Assembly decided to adjourn the session until after the elections in November.

Not long before it began, Republican leadership called on the Virginia State Crime Commission to take a “systematic review” of the Virginia Beach mass shooting and the legislation filed for the special session. Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) and Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment Jr. (R-James City) shared a joint statement about the need for an investigation.

“The investigation into these events is ongoing,” Speaker Cox and Senator Norment wrote. “The Virginia Beach City Council recently authorized an independent investigation into the tragedy that hopefully will provide much-needed insight. The Crime Commission should carefully review any findings that are available because of the independent investigation as part of its effort.”

Cox reiterated his position during a press conference following the announcement of the adjournment.

“It’s an election year, it’s time to take a step back. The Crime Commission does have bipartisan representation,” Cox said. “We obviously, as you know, think a lot of the bills should be on the mental health side, obviously making sure that a lot of case, the criminal is punished. Obviously, the Democrats have different views. This allows us to take a holistic approach.”

Gov. Ralph Northam, who called for the special session in the wake of the mass shooting inside a Virginia Beach municipal building, said the decision to adjourn until November is “shameful and disappointing.”

I called legislators back to Richmond for this special session so we could take immediate action to address the gun violence emergency that takes more than a thousand Virginians’ lives each year. I expected lawmakers to take this seriously. I expected them to do what their constituents elected them to do—discuss issues and take votes.

An average of three Virginians die each day due to gun violence. That means hundreds of Virginians may die between today and November 18, the next day the legislature plans to work.

It is shameful and disappointing that Republicans in the General Assembly refuse to do their jobs, and take immediate action to save lives. I expected better of them. Virginians expect better of them.”

Gov. Ralph Northam

While no legislation was passed on Tuesday, 8News learned the special session still cost nearly $45,000.

According to Clerk of the House Paul Nardo, the cost for Tuesday’s special session was over $31,000, based on initial calculations. For the 96 delegates in attendance, the daily per diem rate was $213 per day — adding up to $20,448 — and the one round-trip mileage reimbursement totaled $11,337.84.

Clerk of the Senate, Susan C. Schaar, shared the cost of the special session for Virginia’s Senate with 8News. According to Schaar, the Senate members per diem was $8,106.36 and the round trip mileage reimbursement was $4,798.82, for a total of $12,905.18.

An ordinance proposed by Richmond Mayor Levar Stone that would ban the carrying of any class of firearm within city-owned buildings, parks and community facilities passed the Richmond City Council earlier this month. The status of Stoney’s ordinance is now up in the air as the General Assembly was expected to debate it during the special session. Stoney released a statement following the announcement of the adjournment.

Republicans in the General Assembly proved today that they are not just spineless but flat-out cowardly. By not allowing for a single vote on legislation or a single word of debate on commonsense gun control bills, they dishonored the victims of gun violence across Virginia. They have thumbed their noses at their responsibility and at the citizens of Virginia that they were elected to represent.  

These actions may break our hearts, but they will not break our resolve. Richmond is ready to protect our children, our employees, and all our residents. In November, Virginians will have an opportunity to elect state representatives who are willing to do the same.”

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney

Stay with 8News for updates to this developing story.

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