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Northam Calls Virginia A ‘Blue State,’ Says Gun Bills Now Possible

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam answered questions from reporters following a meeting with Cabinet members Wednesday morning. (Photo: Craig Carper)

On Tuesday night, both chambers of Virginia’s legislature flipped from Republican to Democratic control. Governor Ralph Northam met with Cabinet members this morning to discuss a number of legislative priorities going forward. Gun legislation is at the top of Northam’s list of priorities.

Northam wants to approve universal background checks, red flag laws, and legislation banning assault style weapons. “These high capacity magazines don’t need to be in our society, on our streets,” Northam said.

In July, Northam convened a special session on gun legislation, but the Republican-controlled legislature adjourned almost immediately, saying they needed more time to study the bills.

“I asked for votes and laws, and got less than 90 minutes of dialogue and everybody went home,” he said.

The Republicans are still in control right now, however, and are set to meet on November 18th to discuss the gun bills, following a Crime Commission meeting next week. Northam isn’t sure whether or not there will be any action on gun bills then. But, Northam says, the bills will definitely have a chance come January, when the newly elected members of Virginia’s House and Senate will get to work. 

“We’re going to be very, very busy but in a very good way,” said Brian Moran, secretary of Virginia’s secretary of public safety and homeland security.

Moran said he watched the election results roll in Tuesday with Lori Haas, a longtime advocate for gun control legislation in Virginia.

“We're going to get some policies passed and some money in the budget to do something about gun violence,” Haas said.

Still, the renewed gun control push in Virginia will likely face stiff opposition from gun rights groups when Democrats take control of the legislature in January. The National Rifle Association said in an email statement that while the battle for legislative control in Virginia and other states is ongoing, so is the NRA's defense of Second Amendment rights.

Megan Pauly reports on early childhood and higher education news in Virginia
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