See below for highlights and video of Gov. Northam’s press conference…going on right now (10 am Tuesday).
10:05 am – Northam: We need more than “thoughts and prayers,” we need “action.” “As an army doctor, I have seen first hand what a bullet does to a body, and I saw it again this weekend. I can’t imagine the devastation these families are suffering. It is wrong. It is outrageous. It is unforgivable to turn our municipal centers…churches, synagogues, mosques into battlefields.” It’s “past time” to change this situation. Calls for reinstating one handgun a month, legislation giving localities more authority to regulate firearms, etc. “None of these ideas are radical, none of them violate the 2nd amendment.” “And none of them passed,” many klled in “small subcommittees.” “This weekend’s tragedy…must instill in us a new sense of urgency to act.” “So, by the power vested in me…I will summon the members of the Senate and House of Delegates to meet in special session” to pass commonsense public safety laws – universal background checks, ban on assault weapons to include suppressors and bumpstocks, reinstating one-gun-a-month, red flag laws, expanding local authority to regulate firearms, etc. “I will be asking for votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers.” Asks that bills be put to a vote “by the ENTIRE General Assembly.” “Business as usual…won’t cut it.” “Virginians deserve leadership, and they will be watching; the nation will be watching.” Calling on elected officials of Virginia to “become second responders…put a stop to this violence…heal our Commonwealth…It doesn’t matter what party you’re in, we are all Virginians first.” Is it too soon after the tragedy? “I would ask those people, when IS the right time.” “Delay means what it always means, that there will be a next time.” “I want this to be the last time.” Doing this is hard, but not nearly as hard as what Virginia Beach families are going through. We need “decisive action…respond to tragedy with action…Let’s get to work.”
10:20 am – LG Justin Fairfax echoes Northam’s call that thoughts and prayers are not enough, we need “serious action by serious people.”
10:25 am – AG Mark Herring emphasizes that “life doesn’t have to be this way and it shouldn’t be that way,” but due to “partisan obstruction,” we are forcing an entire generation of young people to grow up with the trauma of mass shootings. Almost three gun-violence-related deaths per DAY in Virginia. “This IS an emergency.” There are things we can/should do right now. Thankful Gov. Northam is calling for this special session. We can’t wait any longer. This status quo “ought to horrify us.”
10:27 am – Sen. Mamie Locke says the VA Beach tragedy is another avoidable act of gun violence in our nation, yet Republicans say now is not the time to take action. She quotes quotes Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., says waiting almost always means “never,” and that the passage of time will not fix the problem, “it is the passage of legislation that we need.” We need reasonable and sensible gun legislation – “now is the time, we have waited long enough, not one more life.”
10:29 am – House Dem Leader Eileen Filler-Corn calls the shootings an “unspeakable tragedy.” Says Speaker Cox’s “select committee” completely ignored gun violence prevention. We need action to stem this epidemic. House Dems had a reasonable package of reasonable gun safety bills. No suggestion of taking guns away from law-abiding citizens. Offered to work with Republican colleagues, looked for common ground. Republicans, as they’ve done year after year, said “no…again and again they said no.” “Doing nothing is NOT an option.” Asking members on the other side of the aisle to “please work with us…please do something.” Thanks Gov. Northam for his leadership…”we cannot wait for November…now is the time, doing nothing is not an option.”
10:34 am – House Democratic Chair Del. Charniele Herring says her heart is still very heavy. “I grieve for the lives, but I also grieve for our legislature, because year after year, we have failed to pass gun safety legislation…we MUST do better.” “We have experienced…unmitigated pain and senseless violence…we cannot afford to stand idly by any longer…We can both grieve AND get to work…to pass gun safety legislation…make our schools safer…we do not have to choose just one option…we are better than this Virginia…we cannot continue to grieve without action.”
10:36 am – Gov. Northam said some of the proposed measures directly relate to what happened in VA Beach. But looking at the bigger picture, we lost over 1,000 Virginians last year to gun-related deaths. These are commonsense pieces of legislation that have never received a fair hearing but need one now. These are commonsense pieces of legislation; asks Virginians to contact their legislators about this.
From Del. Karrie Delaney (D): “A few moments ago the Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, announced that he will call a special legislative session to take up gun related legislation to combat gun violence in the Commonwealth. I thank the Governor for taking a strong stance in this issue and I look forward to my colleagues responding to the call for action in our communities. We must do all that we can to make sure that what happened in Virginia Beach never happens again.”