RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Many people across the Commonwealth are gearing up for a heated special session at the General Assembly Tuesday as lawmakers debate gun laws.
“A special session is truly the wild west of politics. Truly anything can happen during a special session,” William Pelfrey said.
Governor Ralph Northam called the special session after the mass shooting in Virginia Beach claimed the lives of 12 people. Northam says he wants to see changes in the gun laws in the state.
“There are around 400 million guns in the US and about 340 million people. There are more guns than people in the US,” Pelfrey said.
William Pelfrey teaches criminal justice and homeland security at Virginia Commonwealth University, and says Northam was quick to act after the Mass shooting in Virginia beach.
“I think Virginia can be the first of the states that try to seize the momentum. Historically, after a mass shooting, there are months of a delay before legislation is brought forward. Governor Northam wanted to do this quickly,” Pelfrey said.
Northam is proposing eight laws including mandatory background checks before gun purchases, a ban on assault style weapons, silencers and high capacity magazine and reinstating the “one-handgun-per-month-law.” Another law could be removing guns from those who might be a threat.
“If someone is experiencing duress, a mental health crisis or threatening suicide or someone else. They can seize that person’s gun,” Pelfrey said.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and City Council will be watching to see if their proposal to ban guns from municipal buildings and parks can go into effect. The General Assembly must first grant localities the authority to make those decisions.
Pelfrey says the special session should be an interesting one to watch, and don’t expect many votes on Tuesday.
“All 140 members of the legislature in both the House and Senate are up for re-election. The governor has put the senators and the representatives in a very difficult position. They could support their base or they could come out for something that will really change Virginia legislation,” Pelfrey said.
The proposed bills still have a ways to go before becoming law.
“Traditionally these things die a quiet death in committees,” Pelfrey said.
Hundreds of people are set to show up and be outside either in support or against.
A spokesperson for Capitol Police says they have staffing in place and on stand by for whatever might happen Tuesday.
Stay with NBC12 for the latest developments during the special session Tuesday.
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