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Virginia Governor: We Need 'Laws, Not Thoughts and Prayers'

Ralph Northam calls special session to discuss stricter gun laws
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2019 12:07 PM CDT
Gov. Ralph Northam waits to speak during an event in Norfolk to announce finance agreements for the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion project Thursday, April 25, 2019.   (Jonathon Gruenke/The Daily Press via AP)

(Newser) – Following the Virginia Beach mass shooting that left a dozen dead, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is recalling lawmakers to the state Capitol for a special legislative session aimed at passing new gun laws. "Votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers," are needed right now, Northam said, per the AP. As NBC News notes, the Democratic governor has long been in favor of stricter gun control, but the Republican-controlled state legislature has rejected previous efforts. GOP Speaker Kirk Cox said the move was "hasty," adding, "We believe addressing gun violence starts with holding criminals accountable for their actions, not infringing on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens." Republicans have slim majorities in the Senate and General Assembly, but all seats are up for election in November, notes USA Today.

Northam, for his part, says he wants the legislature to hear from the public about why new laws are needed. "Show Virginians that it doesn't matter what party you are in, we all our Virginians first, and we care about the safety and security of every Virginian no matter who they are or where they live," he said. Some of the measures he's proposing directly relate to Friday's mass shooting, including a ban on silencers and high capacity ammunition magazines, both of which were used in the shooting at a municipal building. He also wants to give local governments increased ability to limit guns in city buildings, mandate universal background checks, limit handgun purchases to one per month, and allow authorities to temporarily seize someone's firearms if they are shown to be a threat. (One of the Virginia victims is being hailed as a hero.)

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