Political disagreement in General Assembly over gun legislation

RICHMOND, Va. (AP)- Democrats in the Virginia General Assembly have expressed frustration over Republicans’ refusal to take up gun control legislation in the wake of Wednesday’s deadly school shooting in Florida. “We extend our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families, but our thoughts and prayers are not enough,” House Minority Leader David Toscano and Del. Charniele Herring, who chairs the Virginia House Democratic Caucus, said in a joint statement. Republican legislators said that they too are concerned about gun violence but that lawmakers should not be rash. “It seems like we’re playing whack-a-mole,” said Del. John McGuire, R-Henrico. “Every time there’s a problem in society, we want to have a quick reaction. That’s why I say we need to stand back and see what’s going on.”

On the Senate floor, Sen. Richard Black, R-Loudoun, said shootings happen at schools because they are gun-free zones. “The idea that we disarm our people in the schools – we forbid our teachers and our staff from carrying concealed firearms – is a mistake,” he said. This legislative session, Virginia Republicans proposed bills to repeal the state’s prohibition on bringing weapons to houses of worship. Such a measure passed the Senate on a party-line vote and is awaiting action in the House.

Virginia Democrats also have proposed several bills regarding guns, including banning bump stocks, a device that allows a semi-automatic rifle to mimic the firing speed of a fully automatic weapon. Also proposed: universal background checks on people who want to buy guns, including in private sales and at gun shows – and keeping guns away from individuals who may present a threat to themselves or others. All of those bills were killed in committees controlled by Republicans.

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