After mass shooting, guns key issue in Virginia elections

After mass shooting, guns key issue in Virginia elections
A girl leaves flowers at a makeshift memorial at the edge of a police cordon in front of a municipal building that was the scene of a shooting, Saturday, June 1, 2019, in Virginia Beach, Va. (Source: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — If Democrats score major victories in Virginia's state legislative races next month, it could usher in a wave of stricter gun laws.

Gun control groups are spending millions to help Virginia Democrats win a majority in the state legislature. Republicans currently have a slim majority and have blocked efforts by Gov. Ralph Northam to mandate universal background checks and limit handgun purchases to once a month.

A perennial issue in Virginia campaigns, gun laws have taken on a new urgency since a mass shooting earlier this year in Virginia Beach left a dozen people and the gunman dead.

Only four states are holding legislative elections this year. Virginia is the only one where partisan control is up for grabs.