FILE - VA Governor Ralph Northam 1-9-2019

Governor Ralph Northam gives his first State of the Commonwealth Address on January 9, 2019.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam proposed an eight-bill package Wednesday that includes a ban on assault weapons and stricter background check rules among other things.

The state legislature will consider the measures in a special session starting on July 9 that Northam called in response to the mass shooting in Virginia Beach that killed 12 people.

“We continue to lose too many lives to senseless and preventable acts of gun violence, but we have the power to make meaningful change,” Northam said in a news release. “Now is the time to act – Virginians deserve votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers. I urge the members of the General Assembly to engage in a thorough, meaningful discussion about these proposed bills and to allow every member to cast their votes on the floor.”

Northam is proposing that the state ban what he calls “dangerous weapons.” This ban would include assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, bump stocks and silencers. Another proposed bill would expand background checks on all firearm sales and transactions.

The governor also proposed reinstating a previous state law that would prohibit anyone from buying more than one handgun in a 30-day period. He also called for legislation that would require that all lost firearms be reported to police within 24 hours of going missing.

Other provisions include allowing police to temporarily take someone’s firearms if that person is deemed an immediate threat, prohibiting all people subject to final protective orders from having firearms, and increasing penalties for people who allow access to loaded and unsecured firearms to a minor.

Democratic leaders are applauding the proposals.

“Virginians should not have to live in fear when they leave their homes to go to work, school, their place of worship, a movie theater, or a concert,” Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, said in a news release. “Enough is enough. Our citizens deserve action and it’s time we show them that we mean business by passing these bills.”

House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax County, made similar comments in the news release.

“Every year, we fight to pass commonsense legislation to prevent gun violence in the Commonwealth, and every year our efforts are blocked,” Filler-Corn said. “It is time that we come together and enact these life-saving measures because doing nothing is not an option.”

Republican leadership had not issued public statements about this proposal at publication time. They have said in the past that they will give all legislation a proper hearing while expressing disapproval with Northam for his decision to immediately call the special session.


Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia, Ohio and Michigan for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.