RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia’s governor led gun-control supporters in chants of “Enough is Enough!” outside the Capitol Tuesday after summoning legislators to debate and vote on new gun laws.
Gov. Ralph Northam ordered lawmakers back for a special session to consider a wide range of gun-control measures, said people need “votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers” after a Virginia Beach employee shot and killed a dozen people in a city building on May 31.
GOP lawmakers criticized Northam as trying to exploit the tragedy for political gain in the lead up to Tuesday’s session. Republican leaders who control both houses of the legislature signaled they wouldn’t pass gun controls, focusing instead on increasing criminal penalties after gun crimes.
Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment filed surprise legislation Monday to broadly ban guns in any government building, but even that faced uncertain passage in the House.
Advocates both for and against stricter gun laws rallied outside the Capitol before the session began.
Gun-control supporters began their demonstration on Capitol Square by reading out the names of the state’s recent gun violence victims, including those in Virginia Beach.
Across the Capitol lawn, a small group of gun-rights supporters gathered ahead of a larger rally they planned in the afternoon. Some openly carried handguns or assault rifles.
Jim Snyder, a 69-year-old gun owner from northern Virginia, said the Virginia Beach shooting hadn’t moved the needle on gun issues for him one bit.
“I haven’t done anything wrong and they want to take guns away from me,” he said.
SOURCE: ALAN SUDERMAN and SARAH RANKIN, AP