Virginia kicks off a special legislative session on gun control Tuesday with activists on both sides of the issue at a fever pitch.
The pro-gun National Rifle Association as well as the anti-gun Virginia Citizens Defense League, Brady United Against Gun Violence and March for Our Lives have announced plans to bring supporters to the capital of Richmond to lobby lawmakers, The Washington Free Beacon reported.
The session was called by Gov. Ralph Northam, who this spring suffered a major political embarrassment after it was revealed that at least one photo that appeared to be of him wearing blackface was published in his medical school yearbook. Northam is calling for universal background checks and a limit of one gun purchase per month.
Kirk Cox, the Republican speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates, referenced that political backdrop.
“The governor’s call to special session is hasty and suspect when considered against the backdrop of the last few months,” Cox said in a statement. He said lawmakers will show up but will not be Northam’s puppets.
“While the governor can call a special session, he cannot specify what the General Assembly chooses to consider or how we do our work. We intend to use that time to take productive steps to address gun violence by holding criminals accountable with tougher sentences—including mandatory minimums,” he said.
The stakes run higher than gun control, some legislators have said as part of the impassioned run-up to the session.
“They want our state,” Republican Delegate Margaret B. Ransone said at an NRA-backed meeting in Fredericksburg, Virginia, according to what The Washington Post said was an audio recording of the session.
“They want every single member gone in the House and Senate that is Republican. They intentionally want to turn it blue. Gun control, abortion rights, social justice — they’ve named their three; that’s what they want,” Ransone said.
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