Virginia’s special session on gun control set to begin

Politics

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In the wake of the mass shooting in Virginia Beach where a dozen people were killed inside a municipal building, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) pushed lawmakers to address Virginia’s gun laws by calling for a special legislative session for Tuesday.

Northam proposed a package of legislation — including the requirement for universal background checks, reinstating Virginia’s One Handgun a Month law and banning assault firearms — aimed at preventing “gun violence and improve the safety of Virginia’s citizens and communities.” You can read more on the governor’s proposals here.

“On the eve of Virginia’s special session, I’m thinking of all the families and communities impacted by gun violence,” Gov. Northam wrote on Twitter Monday. “An I’m asking my colleagues again — tomorrow, let’s turn our pain into purpose. Let’s come together to pass commonsense gun safety laws.”

Virginia Republicans have criticized the governor’s call for the special session, with House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) stating that Republicans will use the special session “to take productive steps to address gun violence by holding criminals accountable with tougher sentences — including mandatory minimums.”

We believe addressing gun violence starts with holding criminals accountable for their actions, not infringing on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. When the Special Session convenes, Republicans will put forward a package of legislation to stiffen penalties for those who use firearms to commit crimes, including mandatory minimum sentences. These steps, combined with our ongoing efforts to strengthen the mental and behavioral health system, are the best ways to keep our communities safe from those who commit violence with guns.”

House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights)

On Monday night, Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) filed a bill that would ban guns in local government buildings in Virginia. Norment’s bill, Senate Bill 4013, would also change current law and expand the restriction to all government buildings, not just courthouses. The measure would toughen the penalty for violators, changing it from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Many bills have been filed for the special session already. Click here to find a list of all the legislation introduced for the special session.

Stay with 8News for updates to this developing story.

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