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Virginia Lawmakers Abruptly End Gun Law Debate

A special session on gun control at the Virginia General Assembly ended less than two hours after it began Tuesday.
Posted at 7:29 PM, Jul 09, 2019

Virginia state lawmakers were scheduled to debate gun control legislation Tuesday —  but a special session on the issue ended abruptly without any resolution. 

Lawmakers in the GOP-controlled legislature adjourned the session less than two hours after it started, deciding not to take immediate action on several proposed gun bills. 

The push for movement on gun laws came from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who ordered a special legislative session on gun control in the wake of the mass shooting in Virginia Beach in May. Twelve people were killed and four others were injured when a gunman opened fire at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. 

Northam says he's asked lawmakers to pass tighter gun restrictions in the past, but that they've turned down his request. The public safety laws up for debate include universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and other restrictions. 

Northam addressed the measures earlier Tuesday. 

"We've introduced eight pieces of common-sense legislation. They have been reviewed, and I expect them. Let's have a discussion, a dialogue about those. And then at the end of the day, I want all of our legislators, all of our elected officials, to take a vote on these. People in Virginia need to know that we're here to make Virginia safer, and they need to know where these legislators stand on this issues," he said. 

Republicans in the state have accused Northam's call to action of being politically motivated. As The Associated Press points out, they've floated legislation that focuses on criminal penalties. 

"The speed which the governor called the session, the partisan demands for floor votes, the roadshow all demonstrate to me how the whole thing is just an election year stunt," said Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox. "We all share the goal of reducing gun violence in Virginia." 

There's also recently been action on gun control issues nationwide. Earlier this year, the Trump administration enacted a ban on bump stocks, devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire faster. But some gun rights advocates argue legislative solutions don't effectively tackle the core issue of violent crime. 

The Virginia General Assembly postponed any movement on gun control until at least Nov. 18. 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN