The General Assembly is scheduled to meet for a special session to take up Governor Ralph Northam’s gun control proposals this week.
But Northam’s gun control plans are already on the brink of collapse.
And now, yet another Republican legislator just game out swinging against the Governor’s demands.
In the aftermath of a tragic shooting in Virginia Beach earlier this year, disgraced Governor Ralph Northam opted to call the Virginia General Assembly back into session to debate a host of gun control legislation being pushed by House and Senate Democrats.
The call for a special session was made even after Virginia Beach Chief James Cervera announced that additional restrictions on Second Amendment rights in the Commonwealth wouldn’t have stopped the shooting.
Yet the Governor and his allies in the legislature remain adamant that the only thing Virginia needs to enact in order to prevent further shootings are sweeping new gun control legislation.
But several legislators are skeptical that the Governor’s plans are anymore more than a political ploy intended to energize Democrats in the leadup to the November elections that will decide control of the General Assembly.
Delegate Michael J. Webert (R-Marshall) released a scathing press release shortly after Northam’s demands were made public, declaring that, “Unfortunately, the Governor and my Democratic colleagues couldn’t resist the urge to push their political agenda and call for more meaningless gun control laws in the wake of this tragedy.”
Webert is now being joined by Republican Senator David Suetterlein (R-Roanoke) in rejecting the Governor’s demands for the legislature to pass more restrictions on the Second Amendment.
In an op-ed to the Roanoke Times, Suetterlein writes the following:
“Just four days after the horrific murders at the Virginia Beach Government Center on May 31, Governor Ralph Northam mounted his own political hobby horse.
Flanked by Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring, the Governor of Virginia called for a special session of the General Assembly to consider gun control legislation that had been rejected just three months earlier during the regular session.
That news conference qualifies among the most brazenly cynical uses of a tragedy by an elected executive to advance a political agenda or, more precisely, an attempted political redemption.”
Suetterlein then pointed out the hypocrisy between then-Governor Tim Kaine’s response to the Virginia Tech shooting and the response Northam issued in the aftermath of the shooting in Virginia Beach.
“When then-Governor Kaine dealt with the enormity of the Virginia Tech murders, he established a blue ribbon, bipartisan panel to consider and review every aspect of the crimes. The result was multiple positive changes to Virginia’s system of background checks, mental health care, and campus security.
Contrast that collaborative, deliberate approach with the one embraced by Governor Northam. Instead of naming a distinguished bipartisan panel to thoroughly consider what occurred at the Virginia Beach Government Center and what actions local and state governments might take to reduce the likelihood of such crimes in the future, he called a news conference to highlight himself and his fellow Democratic partisans bemoaning the failure of legislation they supported. He did this while the investigation into the murders had only just begun and the funerals and memorial services for victims were still underway.”
Suetterlein’s conclusion calls out Northam’s special session as little more than a political stunt.
“The clear motivation for the special session is not a search for solutions, but the pursuit of political rehabilitation for Virginia’s executive branch – and for the party that elected them.
Within two hours of Governor Northam’s news conference, House and Senate Democratic Leaders were releasing lists of bills rejected by their respective chambers during this year’s regular session.
They called for a ban on guns in government buildings, but the murders were committed in a gun-free zone and municipal employees in Virginia Beach are already prohibited from carrying firearms.
The guns used in Virginia Beach were purchased two years apart, but they are again calling to restore the failed policy of prohibiting law-abiding citizens from purchasing two firearms in the same month.
They are calling for the banning of bump stocks which were not used in these murders and have already been prohibited at the federal level.
Never did they mention that none of these bills would have done anything to prevent the murders in Virginia Beach. Never did they mention the several existing state laws and local ordinances the murderer violated.
None of this bodes well for a productive result to the special session that begins on July 9. But since a legislatively productive result was not the Governor’s purpose in calling the session, the prospects for consensus were already remote.
The Commonwealth’s executive branch has not distinguished itself this year. By prioritizing a perceived political benefit over a genuine and thoughtful examination of solutions, they have further diminished themselves and Virginia. The people of Virginia – and, at this time, especially Virginia Beach – are entitled to expect more from their leaders.”
There is no equivocation in Senator Suetterlein’s op-ed, and it’s clear that Governor Northam won’t be able to count on Senator Suetterlein’s vote when the time comes to pass his gun control package.
New Virginia Press will keep you up to date with any breaking news during the General Assembly’s special session.