Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam expressed his disappointment with the GOP-controlled General Assembly’s decision to abruptly adjourn Tuesday’s special session on gun legislation, saying he “expected better of them.”
Northam (D) issued a statement at 2:30 p.m., about an hour after the Senate voted at 1:30 p.m. to adjourn its session until Nov. 18 in a 20-to-18 party-line vote. The session began at noon.
Neither the Senate nor the House of Delegates took up any of the more than 50 bills that had been submitted ahead of the July 9 special meeting.
Northam called state lawmakers back to Richmond in June, days after the May 31 mass shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal building left 12 people dead and four seriously injured. Since then, Northam has traveled the state advocating for stricter laws in an effort to curb gun violence, which claimed 1,028 Virginians in 2017.
“I called legislators back to Richmond for this special session so we could take immediate action to address the gun violence emergency that takes more than a thousand Virginians’ lives each year,” Northam’s statement said. “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’s statement noted that an average of three Virginians die each day due to gun violence.
“That means hundreds of Virginians may die between today and November 18, the next day the legislature plans to work,” he added.
“It is shameful and disappointing that Republicans in the General Assembly refuse to do their jobs, and take immediate action to save lives. I expected better of them. Virginians expect better of them.”
During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Republican leaders said all legislation filed for the special session will be referred for further study by the Virginia State Crime Commission.
House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-66th District, of Colonial Heights, and Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R-3rd District, of James City, said the commission has agreed to conduct “a systemic review of the events that occurred in Virginia Beach and will propose ... changes to Virginia’s laws concerning firearms and public safety,” according to a report by the Virginia Mercury.