Two Republicans representing areas of Fauquier County in the Virginia General Assembly remain opposed to any new gun control legislation in the wake of the May 31 killings of 12 at a Virginia Beach municipal building by a gunman.
Gov. Ralph Northam has summoned legislators to return to Richmond on July 9 “to address the emergency of gun violence in the commonwealth.”
The Democratic governor said he will ask for “votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers” on proposals such as:
- Universal background checks;
- A ban on assault weapons, to include suppressors and bump stocks;
- An extreme risk protective order;
- Reinstating the one-gun-a-month law;
- Child access prevention;
- Requiring people to report lost and stolen firearms; and
- Expanding local authority to regulate firearms, including in government buildings.
Del. Mark Cole, a Republican representing the 88th District, which includes a section of southern Fauquier, said, “The special session being called for next month [will] address gun control proposals that have already been considered and rejected by the General Assembly. As far as I can tell, the governor's proposals would not have prevented the tragedy in Virginia Beach. The session will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars – funds that could be spent on increasing security in our schools and public buildings.”
Cole said he has supported legislation to enhance mental health services in the commonwealth.
“We need to recognize that the problem isn’t about the guns people legally own and use. It’s about angry and depraved individuals intent on doing harm to our fellow citizens,” Cole said.
“I do not believe you make people safer by making it harder to defend themselves,” Cole added.
State Sen. Jill Vogel, a Republican representing the 27th District, said that while “I am horrified by what happened and share in the grief of the Virginia Beach community, this should not be political, and it does not change my position on
SecondAmendment rights.” The 27th District includes all of Fauquier County.
Vogel said that among the ideas that have been suggested are letting localities make government buildings gun-free zones and putting a limit on ammunition magazines.
“Neither would impact an employee entering the building intent on murdering his colleagues, but would restrict the lawful exercise of Second Amendment rights. In fact, those restrictions were in place in Virginia Beach,” Vogel said.
Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-31st, said she felt hopeful that members from both sides of the aisle might be ready for compromise.
Guzman said the fact that more than half of the delegates from the Virginia Beach area are members of the GOP gives her a reason to feel optimistic.
“For me, inaction is enabling these acts of violence to occur and we need to do something,” Guzman said. “I think now that it has hit home, I hope my Republican colleagues … would now act on these measures. If they don’t, they are going to have to do some explaining to their constituents and the familes of these victims.”
Guzman said she would gladly vote in support of the red-flag bill as well as measures to close the background check loophole and to revive the law that limits gun purchases to one per month.
The red-flag bill permits police or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or him or herself.
“No one in Virginia needs [to buy] more than one gun a month,” Guzman said. “We don’t need guns in public buildings and churches. I know some of my colleagues have guns in the chamber and that makes me uncomfortable.”
Del. Michael Webert, Republican representing the 18th District, is a member of the militia, police and public safety committee, which would consider any firearms legislation.
Webert couldn’t be reached for comment for this story.
The 18th District includes a portion of Fauquier County.
Reach James Ivancic at email@example.com.