Republican Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City) said Governor Ralph Northam’s sweeping package of gun control bills was “dead on arrival” in the House of Delegates, reaffirming the party’s commitment to defend the Second Amendment ahead of a critical legislative session during an election year.
The lawmaker from Southwest Virginia, who strongly favors gun rights, weighed in on the upcoming session during a Tuesday morning interview on the John Fredericks show.
While the interview began with discussion of the House GOP’s tax relief plan, the conversation quickly pivoted towards gun rights, which became a top issue for session after the Democratic governor unveiled a sweeping gun control agenda last Friday.
Kilgore said defending the Second Amendment was a priority for Republicans in 2019. He also dismissed unfounded Internet rumors suggesting that Republicans were planning to cut a deal with Governor Northam on gun control.
“There’s some rumor going around, here’s a text I got from William in Norfolk, VA, who said: ‘John you said the Republicans wouldn’t go after our guns. Well, one of the new laws they’re trying to propose and cut a deal with Ralph Northam is an assault weapons ban. There’s secret meetings. I saw this all over the Internet,'” reported Fredericks, highlighting unfounded accusations he received from a listener via text message.
“No, that’s not true,” responded Kilgore. “Our caucus believes in the Second Amendment. We’re not making any secret deals with Governor Northam to take your Second Amendment rights away, to ban assault weapons, anything of that nature.”
“People just make things up and get behind a keyboard and start typing,” Kilgore continued. “I don’t know where those come from, but I can tell you, those bills are dead on arrival. I do not see any of those even getting to the floor, and then I don’t see them passing.”
Last Friday, flanked by Democratic lawmakers, Governor Northam unveiled a broad gun control package which would ban certain semiautomatic weapons, ban private party transactions, reinstitute Virginia’s “One Handgun a Month” law, and institute “Red Flag” laws which gun rights supporters say fall short of constitutional due process requirements.
Some reports indicated that the proposal was so overreaching, it would ban the common 10/22 rifle used by countless youth to learn gun safety and marksmanship, based solely on the size of detachable magazines that model is capable of accepting.
Aggressive gun control proposals have even made their way to the campaign trail, where Dan Helmer, a Democratic candidate challenging Delegate Tim Hugo (R-Clifton), called for “SKU-level reporting” of every box of ammunition sold to a central database, which investigators would would comb through to try and identify mass shooters. Helmer offered no means to distinguish law-abiding gun owners from a would-be killer who purchases only a few boxes of ammo.
Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) also weighed in on the debate, calling the unfounded reports, “very frustrating fake news” during an earlier interview with Fredericks.
“I’m certainly not negotiating a backroom deal with the governor,” Cox said. “I’ve been very clear with him, on any meetings, that I’m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. You can look at my voting history.”
“The Virginia House GOP will steadfastly fight to defend the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens from far-left gun control proposals this session,” Cox tweeted yesterday.
While gun rights appear to be safe, for now, November’s elections could change the political landscape and make passage possible if Democrats succeed in winning majorities in the General Assembly’s House of Delegates and Senate, both of which are currently controlled by Republicans, each by a one seat majority.
Northam’s gun control bills will be heard and debated during the 2019 legislative session, which convenes in Richmond tomorrow.