America needs minority control, not gun control!
Gun debate ends abruptly in Virginia as GOP-controlled legislature adjourns after 90 minutes
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By Gregory S. Schneider ,
Laura Vozzella and
Antonio Olivo July 9 at 2:18 PM
RICHMOND — Barely more than an hour after it convened a special session called by the Democratic governor to debate gun legislation, the GOP-controlled General Assembly abruptly adjourned without taking any action, stunning hundreds of gun control activists and gun rights protesters who had packed the Capitol.
The Senate gaveled in shortly after noon and at about 1:30 p.m., voted 18 to 20 along party lines to adjourn until November 18 - after a state election in which all 140 legislative seats are on the ballot.
A few minutes later, the House of Delegates followed suit, as Democrats expressed surprise and outrage.
“The Republicans in this state are totally controlled—I mean 100 percent – controlled by the National Rifle Association,” said Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), who fumed in the marble hallways in the Capitol. “Anybody who doubts that, go take a look where the money is spent and go take a look at their votes.”
He struck a defiant note.
“This is far from over,” he said. “In the end, let me assure you we are going to prevail, one way or another.”
House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn, who had been consulting with Republicans even after the session started about what the rules of engagement would be, was almost shaking with anger.
“Shocking,” she said. “Disturbing. But it’ll be up to the voters in November now… ”
Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said Republicans had abdicated their duty. “I expected them to do what their constituents elected them to do - discuss issues and take votes,” Northam said in a statement. “An average of three Virginians die each day due to gun violence. That means hundreds of Virginians may die between today and November 18...It is shameful and disappointing that Republicans in the General Assembly refuse to do their jobs.”
Before adjourning, Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) pulled a bill he had filed on Monday that seemed to suggest Republicans might find some common ground with Democrats. His bill would have banned firearms from local government buildings around the state and make any violation a felony. State law now bans guns only in courthouses, and a violation is a misdemeanor.
But Norment faced an intense backlash from members of his own party and the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun rights group, and moments after Tuesday’s session began, he announced he was pulling the bill.
“I do not support — nor will I support — any measure that restricts the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” Norment said.
Minutes after the General Assembly adjourned, Jason Ouimet, acting executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, released a statement applauding the House and Senate Republican leadership and calling the special session “a complete taxpayer-funded distraction.”
Earlier Tuesday, armed militia members and gun control activists had swarmed the grounds and streets outside the State Capitol building.
Men in camouflage, some with holstered handguns dangling from their hips, gathered not far from a heavily female crowd wearing red “Moms Demand Action” T-shirts. Busloads of activists rolled into the city, their passengers bracing for a long day.
By 8:30 a.m. about 150 pro-gun demonstrators, several carrying assault rifles, gathered outside the white-columned building.
Jeff Squires, 57, said he wants legislators to hear firsthand from gun owners who feel under siege.
“It’s an incremental taking-away of rights,” Squires said. “There’s an agenda to take away guns, and this is how they’re doing it. I understand there’s violence. It’s not just with guns, though. It’s people with those guns.”
In Capitol Square on Tuesday, some gun-toting protesters held aloft images of the photo from Northam’s yearbook, which featured a person in Ku Klux Klan robes and another in blackface at what appeared to be a costume party. Printed atop the blown-up image was, “The man behind the sheet wants your guns.”
Republicans have accused Northam of trying to use the Virginia Beach shooting to rehabilitate his political image. Northam has been under a cloud since February, when a racist photo came to light from his 1984 medical school yearbook page.
He first apologized for the photo, then disavowed it but admitted wearing blackface at an event that same year. Since defying calls to resign, Northam has said he would dedicate his term in office to fighting racial disparities
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