Virginia Democrats, now with complete control of the state government, are pushing forward with gun legislation but say they are aware of political blowback looming.
Despite throngs of gun rights protesters who swarmed city council meetings demanding their counties be declared as “Second Amendment sanctuaries” and attending Lobby Day in Richmond on Monday for the annual gun rights rally hosted by the Virginia Civil Defense League, Democrats in the commonwealth are undeterred.
Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam supports eight gun control bills, and Democrats have already passed three of the measures in the state Senate: universal background checks, bringing back the state’s one-gun-a-month policy, and banning guns at public events.
The focus of the gun control legislation is currently an “assault weapons” ban. One version of the legislation in the state Senate failed in committee, while another version is still being debated in the state House.
“The fact is that, you know, you can have as many VCDL and outside groups from other states coming here as you want, but over 1.9 million voted solidly for Democrats to lead the Senate, lead the House, and be in the governor’s mansion,” Democratic Del. Alfonso Lopez told reporters. “And this was one of the major issues.”
But Republican Del. Nick Rush told the Washington Examiner that the push on gun control measures “energized a lot of folks that maybe haven’t traditionally come out and vote in off-year elections.”
“I’m sure that rural Virginia and folks who believe in the Second Amendment are going to be out in force in 2020, and then, you know, our job is to make sure they stay engaged in 2021.”
Gun control bills are not the only proposals on the table in Richmond, however. Another proposal put forth would allow for Virginia governors to serve two consecutive four-year terms starting in 2025. Currently, there is a ban on governors serving consecutive terms, which was adopted in 1971. Virginia is the only state to do so.
It does, though, allow for a former governor to serve in the same office in nonconsecutive terms. Former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who left office in early 2018 when his four-year term was up, is considering a return.