Northam plans to reintroduce gun safety legislation after Dems take General Assembly

Published: Nov. 6, 2019 at 6:41 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - After Democrats took control of the General Assembly following Tuesday’s historic election, Governor Ralph Northam said he plans on reintroducing gun safety legislation.

During a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Northam and members discussed priorities moving forward, including gun legislation.

“I really think a large part of the results that we saw yesterday were Virginians saying they’ve had enough," Northam said.

In July, Northam called for a special session of the General Assembly for lawmakers to debate gun laws following the mass shooting in Virginia Beach that claimed the lives of 12 people. Lawmakers adjourned after just two hours without considering any proposed gun control measures.

"I think had [Republicans] passed one piece of legislation it would have taken some of the pressure off," said NBC12 political analyst Deirdre Condit. “What you saw in the election is that many Republican candidates had to position themselves as sort of embracing gun safety in a way they had not and their record hadn’t shown it.”

Northam had introduced eight bills, including mandatory background checks before gun purchases, a ban on assault-style weapons, silencers and high capacity magazines and reinstating the “one-handgun-per-month-law.”

The National Rifle Association released the following statement regarding the 2019 election results:

"As if Gov. Northam’s legacy of ineptitude wasn’t enough, Virginians are about to experience life under a distant tycoon’s thumb. Candidates who proudly accepted Bloomberg’s cash—and every voter they misled—will soon realize the cost of being beholden to a Manhattan billionaire who despises Virginians’ right to self-defense. Fortunately, many NRA-backed candidates in Virginia, New Jersey, Kentucky and Mississippi prevailed over their Bloomberg-funded opponents. As the battle continues, so does the NRA’s defense of the Second Amendment rights of all Americans.”

Another special session is expected to be held in the coming weeks, however Northam feels a lot of that work will get done come January when the chambers are filled by a majority of Democrats.

"While they're not identical or uniform in what they're going to do, some are more conservative Democrats, some are more liberal Democrats, they're still going to be unified in the basic mission of the party," Condit said.

Republicans like current House Speaker Kirk Cox say they will work with Democrats where they can, and speak out against "overreaching policies" when they must.

“When Republicans took the majority 20 years ago, we preserved proportional representation on committees and sought to treat our colleagues with the respect that should be afforded to all equal members in an institution as revered and esteemed as the House,” Cox said. “I hope and pray those traditions continue regardless of who wields power in the years to come.”

Meanwhile other Republicans like House Majority Republican Leader Todd Gilbert said Tuesday’s election was discouraging.

“In the months ahead, Democrats will seek to make good on their extreme agenda,” Gilbert said. “We will fight that agenda at every turn, but with unchecked control of both Houses and a governor still desperately seeking rehabilitation, we will have our work cut out for us. One thing is for certain, Democrats will completely own the results of the next two years."

However, gun legislation isn’t the only issue on the table. Northam hopes to joins 12 other states in decriminalizing marijuana and addressing repeat offender rates in the Commonwealth.

“Finally criminal justice reform, I think we have a great opportunity to really make our system fair and more equitable,” he said.

“You’re going to have moderate Republicans, the few that are left in the Republican party of Virginia who are going to be reaching out across the aisle because they’re going to want to get some things done for their constituents,” Condit said. “You’re going to have moderate Democrats reaching out to those Republicans and you’re going to see some coalition building going on.”

Newly elected lawmakers will not take office until January, but as seen Wednesday, Democrats are already making plans for the future.

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