Virginia House Democrats on Monday called on Speaker Kirk Cox to bring gun control legislation up for a vote during the upcoming special session that starts on July 9.
In a news release, House Democratic Caucus Executive Director Trevor Southerland said that Cox, R-Colonial Heights, has a history of blocking legislation before it can be voted on and cited his handling of the Equal Rights Amendment as an example. Because Republicans criticized Northam for calling a special session on gun control legislation without first having a bill crafted, Southerland suggested that Cox might block any vote.
“Speaker Cox and House Republicans have a policy – when it looks like common-sense legislation might pass with a full floor vote, they block the bills from ever getting to the floor,” Southerland said. “Cox spares his vulnerable members from ever having to be accountable to their communities, while the right-wing hardliners set the policy agenda. This special session, we can pass gun violence solutions – but only if Cox allows them to the floor.”
Following the May 31 Virginia Beach shooting that killed 12 people, Northam called on both chambers of the state legislature to convene a special session to consider gun control legislation. He said the legislature should look into universal background checks, assault weapons bans and bans on bump stocks and suppressors.
Republican leaders said that they will call the special session and give proposed legislation a proper hearing, but also accused the governor of politicizing the tragedy and not offering real solutions.
In a news release following Northam’s statement for a special session, Cox said that Republicans will not infringe on the Second Amendment, but that they will push for stricter penalties for people who commit crimes with a firearm. Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, said that Northam doesn’t have a plan, but is rather just playing politics.
Republicans have a slim two-seat majority in both the House and the Senate. Northam is a Democrat.