State Watch

Virginia governor vows to reintroduce gun control measures after Democrats win control of legislature

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is promising to reintroduce a slate of “commonsense” gun control measures after Democrats gained control of both houses of the General Assembly for the first time since 1994.

Northam said on CNN’s “New Day” early Wednesday morning that he planned to reintroduce a package of laws addressing gun violence during the next legislative session. 

“Things like universal background checks. Getting rid of bump stocks, high volume magazines, ‘red flag’ laws. These are commonsense pieces of legislation,” he said. “I will introduce those again in January. And I’m convinced, with the majority now in the House and the Senate, they’ll become law and because of that Virginia will be safer.”

Northam said in a statement Tuesday night after Democrats won at least 21 of 40 seats in the state Senate and 51 seats in the 100-member House of Delegates that the “ground has shifted in Virginia government.”

“Since I took office two years ago, we have made historic progress as a Commonwealth,” he added. “Tonight, Virginians made it clear they want us to continue building on that progress.”

The governor went on to argue that the results signaled that voters wanted state lawmakers to take action on issues such as gun safety and climate change.

Northam convened a special session of the state legislature earlier this year following a mass shooting in Virginia Beach, Va., that left 13 people dead. The session was called to consider a package of bills that included expanding background checks and placing limits on devices that suppress the sounds of gunshots like the one the Virginia Beach gunman used. Other proposals included a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. 

But Republican lawmakers quickly blocked consideration of the bills Northam put forth when the session convened. Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox (R) knocked the special session as an “election-year stunt.” 

The Virginia Democratic Party said in a statement at the time that state Republicans were “cowards who could give a damn about keeping Virginians safe from gun violence.”

Gun control became a major theme for Democrats running in Tuesday’s elections. Everytown for Gun Safety, the group funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, committed to spending $2.5 million on Democratic candidates ahead of the vote. 

John Feinblatt, president of the group, said in a statement that the Democrats’ victories would “resonate around the country, and should terrify elected officials up and down the ballot who have stood in the way of gun safety.”

Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association said the results meant Virginians would experience life under a “distant tycoon’s thumb,” referring to Bloomberg.

Tags Gun control Gun law reform Michael Bloomberg Virginia elections

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