Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is calling a special session to push new gun laws in the wake of last week’s deadly mass shooting in Virginia Beach, but a pro-second amendment lawmaker sees Northam’s move more as an attempt to burnish his own image than to seriously address incidents of deadly violence.
Earlier in the week, Northam called for seven specific items to be enacted, including universal background checks; a ban on assault weapons, bump stocks, and suppressors; an extreme risk protective order; re-instating of the one-gun-a-month law; requiring people to report lost or stolen firearms; and expanding local authority to regulate firearms – including in government buildings.
Northam’s call comes just days after a disgruntled former municipal employee in Virginia Beach killed 12 people and wounded at least six others before being killed by police.
But GOP Delegate Nick Freitas does not believe Northam is approaching the issue with sincerity. Instead, Freitas thinks the governor is trying to improve his standing among voters following his notorious medical school yearbook scandal, in which a photo of one person in blackface and another in KKK garb appeared on Northam’s personal page.
“Ever since his blackface and KKK robe scandal, everything he has done has been about trying to rejuvenate his political career. When it interferes in sound public policy, that’s a real problem,” said Freitas.
The Virginia Beach murderer legally purchased the handguns he used to shoot people in a government building, leading Freitas and other Northam critics wonder how Northam’s policy demands would have made any difference in that horrific attack.
To the contrary, Freitas says Northam’s agenda would Virginia citizens less safe.
“The whole reason why, in the United States, we value the individual’s right to be able to protect themselves and if necessary to have a firearm to do so. It’s because it actually makes a weaker person able to defend themselves from a stronger attacker.
“Every single one of these provisions they’re now pushing out creates an environment where a law-abiding citizen is going to be put at a disadvantage to somebody that is not obeying the law,” said Freitas.
Freitas says the narrow Republican majorities in the General Assembly will examine ways to make Virginians safer but that will not include the Northam agenda.
“We’re going to use this as an opportunity to actually look at all of the data points – all of the information coming in surrounding this shooting – and figure out a way that we can actually make people safer. But we’re certainly not going to succumb to this knee-jerk reaction by the governor to politicize a tragic event in order to rehabilitate his political career,” said Freitas.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Freitas discuss whether there can ever be common ground on this issue and where Virginia Republicans can take action to increase safety for people in the commonwealth.