Less than 24 hours before a special session on gun control is set to gavel in, Governor Northam and his team still haven’t settled on a reason for calling it.
Northam called legislators back to Richmond following the massacre in Virginia Beach on May 31, where 12 people were killed by a single gunman.
The gunman’s motive remains unclear. The investigation is ongoing, but both Democrat legislators and the Virginia Beach City Council have called for an independent investigation into the shooting.
Northam initially couched much of his call for a special session in terms of preventing another mass shooting like Virginia Beach, but earlier this month
Northam walked away from his contention that his package of gun control laws would have stopped the shooter in Virginia Beach.
“Northam conceded that his proposals wouldn’t have necessarily prevented the Virginia Beach shooting,” the Roanoke Times reported, citing a question and answer session at Boy’s State leadership conference.
“’The bigger picture is it wasn’t just about Virginia Beach,”’ Northam said, according to the Times. “‘We have had one tragedy after another. I hear people say now is not the right time. I say when is the right time? And maybe it’s too late. Maybe we should have talked about this before.’”
Northam further abandoned the mass-shootings rationale for the session this weekend, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“What really woke me up — as if I needed to be woken up — was Markiya Dickson,” a 9-year-old girl killed in a crossfire during a Memorial Day celebration at Carter Jones Park, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
“They can bring their thoughts and prayers, that’s fine, but they were elected by folks like you to vote and enact laws,” he said.
But other members of the administration have acknowledged that the proposals will do nothing to stop gun violence in neighborhoods like the one where Markiya Dickson was killed.
“Moran acknowledged that Northam’s proposals for the special session would not address deeper issues in violence-plagued communities, but there will be time for that in the General Assembly’s regular session in January,” the Washington Post reported.
The mixed messages continued on Monday, as Northam announced grant funding for anti-violence programs.
“Preventing gun violence in our communities requires a multi-faceted approach that not only strengthens our laws and limits access to dangerous firearms, but also provides resources to our communities to intervene and address the factors contributing to this deadly problem,” said Northam, in a press release.
None of Northam’s proposals include resources for anti-violence programs.
Writing separately in an op-ed Monday, Moran said the link between gun violence and mental illness was non-existent.
“While mental illness is a serious issue in our communities, it is not causally linked to gun violence,” he wrote. In the same article, he cited statistic decrying the loss of more than 1,000 Virginians per year due to gun violence.
More than half of those are due to suicide.
The special session starts Tuesday at noon.