RICHMOND – Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said Tuesday he is calling lawmakers back to Richmond for a special session of the General Assembly.
"We must do more than give our thoughts and prayers," said Northam, who intends to schedule the session for late June. "We must give Virginians the action they deserve."
Northam was joined by Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark R. Herring, all Democrats, at a news conference with more than one dozen other Democratic leaders to challenge the Republicans who hold the General Assembly and still have stifled efforts to consider any form of gun control.
"It's time for action," Northam said.
The initial Republican response was cool. House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) called Northam's action "hasty and suspect." While he said the GOP is ready to take on the issue of gun violence, he noted the governor can not dictate how it does that.
Most gun-control bills have failed in previous sessions of the legislature, including those that would break down the abilities of local governments to limit firearms in public buildings, mandate universal background checks, limit purchases to one hand in a month and allow to seize the weapons of a person found to be threatening others or others.
Northam's decision to call for a special session puts the GOP on the spot just a few months before November.
"The governor's call to special Cox said in his emailed statement.
But he said Republicans wants to be ready to address the topic – though perhaps not in the ways Northam has been advocated.
"We believe addressing gun violence starts with criminals accountable for their actions, not infringing on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens," Cox said
That's right, at Northam, who disagrees with them because they say they're disproportionately impacting African Americans. But Cox noted that Northam "
Northam urged Republicans to bring gun control bills to the full General Assembly so they can be voted up or down. Bills sponsored by Democrats have been killed by a handful of Republican lawmakers in committees.
"I will ask for votes and laws, and not thoughts and prayers," Northam said. "I ask that the bills are brought before the legislature are put to a vote by the entire General Assembly. That is why our legislators are voted into office and sent to Richmond. Business as usual, with leadership shielding of the future Virginians deserve leadership and they want to be watching. The world wants to be watching. "
The governor's office says it will work with individual legislators to introduce measures including bans on assault weapons, silencers and magazines that hold more than 10 bullets, as well as reinstating the one handgun-a-month
"These are common sense pieces of legislation
Northam said that while mass shootings capture the public's attention, more than 1,000 Virginians were killed by guns in 2017 and the death is great, including a 9-year-old girl who was fatally shot at a cookout on Richmond on Memorial Day weekend.
Giffords, the gun violence prevention group, praised Northam's decision t o Call back the Legislature. "Today, Governor Northam has declared that he will not accept any such violence," said Nico Bocour, state legislative director at Giffords. Virginia's laws are weak for years.
One of the top republican Monday said he was not ready to commit to the issue, but he did not commit to specifics. "I was in Virginia Beach yesterday, and I think there is a meaningful discussion in the Community about gun control," said Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (James City), according to an account in the Virginia Gazette newspaper that was confirmed by his spokesman.
Norment was addressing about 80 protesters who had gathered outside his office in Williamsburg.
But Norment, who voted against a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, said they were chatting and holding signs for gun control, citing the horrific events Friday, when a Virginia Beach city employee shot and killed
He told the crowd that he expected the General Assembly to reconsider limiting extended magazines, and one of the protesters came away hopeful.
"I think he's listening," said Lori Haas, Virginia director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, whose daughter was wounded in the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, which left 32 dead. "This issue is not going away. It's politically volatile for the Republicans. "
The topic is particularly sensitive to an election year when all 140 seats in the legislature are on the November ballot. Republicans are clinging to a two-seat majority in both the Senate and the Delegates, and Democrats are hoping to inspire more power than usual.
Polls have shown that the Virginians increasingly favor tightening the state's gun laws, which are among the most permissive in the nation. A June 2017 Quinnipiac University found that they were 91 percent of the total number of innocent survivors checked for all gun buyers, for instance.
After the Virginia Tech shooting, then-Gov. Tim Kaine (D) ordered a safety study. But in some ways, Virginia has made it easier to acquire guns since then. For instance, a 1993 law restricting individuals to one handgun purchase per month was repealed in 2012.
"I applaud Governor Northam, who has seen the carnage of violence as a pediatrician, for the General Assembly to gather in a special session to find solutions, "Kaine said Tuesday via email.
"We have stepped up our enforcement of some of the gun laws, but. , ,
On Sunday, Fairfax spoke at Virginia Beach and called for similar measures.
"It's a moment for us to pray, to reflect but so to act," Fairfax said at New Hope Baptist Church. To "amens" and applause from the congregation, Fairfax said the state should not allow access to firearms that can "shoot and kill people at a large scale. , ,
Tuesday's event was the first time Northam, Fairfax and Herring appeared together in their separate political scandals hit in February.
The issue – as well as the need to console a grieving community – has taken several months to consider. Fairfax has denied accusations from two women that sexually assaulted them into separate incidents in 2000 and 2004.
Sen. Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria), who has backed up all the caucus, has backed, all failed, that would prevent safe storage of guns, prevent children from getting access to weapons and make all the checks.  "Every time there's a tragedy, people talk about that law or that could have prevented it," Ebbin said. "We've got to take an approach. , ,
"We are just trying to promote a culture of responsible gun ownership. We are not trying to take everyone's guns, "Ebbin said.
Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said he favors raising the gun's purchase to 21 and banning high-capacity magazines and military-style weapons.
Over the weekend, several Democrats took to Friday's shooting demonstrated
US Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D), who represented Loudoun County in the state Senate until winning her seat in Congress last year, tweeted "Shame on everyone in the General Assembly who voted against" a bill banning high- capacity magazines. "Elections are coming in November and we need to make sure we flip the House and Senates," she wrote.
Republicans Angrily to that notion – none more than Norment, who told The Washington Post that it was "offensive, disrespectful , and tasteless. , , [to]
In spite of the fact that the United States is in the process of becoming a member of the United States , The only significant gun-related legislation that this year makes a bill makes it easier for out-of-state residents to get a concealed-carry permit. Northam vetoed that.
Another powerful Republican on Monday appeared in a mood for compromise.
"Virginia Beach Police Chief was very clear House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) said via email.