Virginia Republicans abruptly adjourned a special legislative session called by Governor Ralph Northam (D) to address the issue of gun violence after the slaughter of a dozen civil servants at a government building in Virginia Beach in May.

The GOP, which controls a slim majority in the Virginia lawmaking body, refused to vote on the eight gun-control measures proposed by the governor, accusing Northam of unlawfully calling the session for his own political reasons. They instead assigned the state’s bipartisan crime investigation committee to study policy proposals that might have prevented the shooting. Two hours after lawmakers met in the capital they adjourned the session, once again failing to address the issue of gun violence that continues to roil the country.

After the adjournment Northam issued a statement condemning the actions of the Republicans, attacking them for their refusal to “do their jobs, and take immediate action to save lives.”

“I wasn’t expecting much, but I wasn’t expecting this,” said Andy Parker, whose journalist daughter, Alison Parker, was shot to death on live TV in Virginia in 2015, along with a cameraman.

“This is just a complete, disgraceful act of cowardice by the Republicans … And I think it’s going to backfire on them,” he said.


The issue of gun control has become a seminal one in Virginia, where several mass shootings have taken place over the past few decades. The May 31 massacre in Virginia Beach has brought the issue to the forefront of state politics at a crucial time, as the entire state legislature is up for reelection in 2019. Many political strategists believe that the GOP’s refusal to act on gun violence may be the final straw necessary for Virginians to bring in a Democratic legislature to a state that has begun to lean increasingly blue. The results of the 2019 vote will be critical to the future of the state, as whichever party is in power after the election will be responsible for redrawing the district lines after the 2020 census, opening up the possibility of political gerrymandering.

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