Virginia Republicans are chastising the new Democratic leadership after the House and the Senate quickly pushed through a firearm prohibition on capitol grounds.
The legislation, if signed by Gov. Ralph Northam, would for the first time prohibit anyone from possessing a firearm at the capitol or in office buildings. This includes the general public, concealed carry permit holders and members of the General Assembly.
House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, said the legislation was passed at the recommendation of Capitol Police; however, the Associated Press reported that Capitol Police Col. Anthony Pike denied that he provided a recommendation either way. Rather, he said that he only provided recommendations on how to implement the policy that Democrats wanted.
Republicans criticized Democrats for pushing through the legislation in less than 24 hours, without substantial time for consideration and for “hiding behind the honor of our Capitol Police.”
“Democrats have long made it clear they wanted to ban firearms in the Capitol and legislative office buildings,” Senate Minority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, said in a statement. “That’s not surprising. But for Democrats to intentionally misrepresent that they were introducing the policy at the request of Capitol Police is disgusting and wrong. … Democrats have long made it clear they wanted to ban firearms in the Capitol and legislative office buildings. That’s not surprising. But for Democrats to intentionally misrepresent that they were introducing the policy at the request of Capitol Police is disgusting and wrong.”
The legislation may have been rushed through in response to a gun rights protest taking place on Jan. 20. The capitol weapons ban is one of the first bills that Democrats passed after taking control of the House of Delegates and the Senate earlier this month.
Democrats plan to push more gun control legislation in the near future. Northam and other Democratic leaders have proposed a ban on the sale of assault weapons, expanded background checks, red flag laws and mandatory registration of assault weapons.