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General Assembly adjourns, thwarting Northam’s gun control push

State Democratic Party politicians have heaped scorn on their Republican Party colleagues after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s special session on gun control in Richmond fell apart.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly abruptly adjourned just two hours into the legislative debate on Tuesday, July 9, 2019.

Northam had called for the legislature to reconvene to consider eight measures aimed at curbing gun violence, including background checks for all firearm transactions and a ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, bump stocks and silencers.

The push to increase gun regulations came in the wake of the May 31 shooting at Virginia Beach that killed 13 people, including the assailant.

Instead of debating bills, the legislature abruptly adjourned, postponing any consideration of gun control measures until after the election on Nov. 5, 2019, in which all House of Delegates and State Senate seats are on the ballot. Virginia’s General Assembly is adjourned until Nov. 18.

“I expected lawmakers to take this seriously. I expected them to do what their constituents elected them to do — discuss issues and take votes,” Northam said in a statement.

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

State Senator Adam Ebbin (30th District), who represents parts of Alexandria and Arlington, commented that “the Republicans abruptly adjourned without a single minute of debate and summarily sent us back to our districts without taking any action.

“This callous indifference to the 11,000 Virginians who have died at the hand of a gun since Virginia Tech is a new low. With the eyes of the nation on Richmond, and hundreds of advocates from all walks of life filling Capitol Square, Republicans wouldn’t even talk about gun violence.”

Ebbin said Republicans “cowered behind parliamentary procedure.”

Delegate Kathy Tran (42nd District), who represents parts of Springfield, Lorton and Mount Vernon, said Virginia is facing a “gun violence epidemic” and the time to act was now.

“But Republicans just adjourned the special session after less than two hours without considering a single bill,” she said.

“Universal background checks, banning assault weapons, preventing minors from accessing loaded firearms — these are common-sense proposals to make our communities safer. But the Republicans in control of the Virginia legislature won’t even consider them. This refusal to govern is unacceptable.”

Fairfax County Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay, who is running for chairman of the Board of Supervisors, called it a “shameful day.”

“I find myself heartbroken that Republicans in Richmond blocked every effort at gun safety legislation,” he said.

“The General Assembly adjourned with no discussion, consideration, or votes on any of the issues we supported.

“Local governments like Fairfax County must have the ability to enact common-sense gun safety legislation to keep our residents safe.

“We need to keep guns out of our recreation centers, government buildings, and parks. We know that measures like implementing universal background checks, banning assault weapons, and reinstating a one-gun-a-month law will save lives.”

Republican State Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment had proposed his own legislation to allow for the restriction of guns in local government facilities, but withdrew it under pressure from his fellow Republicans.