Action and pretend action
Recently Governor Northam, accompanied by Lt. Governor Fairfax and Attorney General Herring, made an announcement that he was going to call a special session of the General Assembly in which he wants the General Assembly to pass new gun laws in Virginia. While we should all have empathy for the families who lost loved ones that day, it is sad that the Governor has chosen to put on a show that is pure politics at its worst. Let me explain.
First, this was the first time that the Governor had been seen with the Lt. Governor and Attorney General since mid-January, when the news broke about his views on infanticide and college blackface antics were front page news. Likewise, it was a rare appearance of the Attorney General after similar antics as well his hypocrisy of calling for the Governor to resign for doing exactly the same thing. As well, sexual charges against the Lt. Governor has kept him from public appearances. It is interesting that they would use this tragedy to try to make themselves relevant to the public again.
Second, the Governor is using this political stunt to the maximum. He successfully returned to the front page again several days later by actually setting the date he was calling us back into session. Then, he successfully got headlines another day by calling for a panel to actually look at the issues that he has already called for. I would point out that if the Governor had actually expected this to be anything other than a political stunt, he would have reversed the order of his announcements. He would have waited for the investigation of what facts were involved in the city office building in Virginia Beach. Following that, he would have called for a fair panel to consider changes that could be made to address what happened. Then, and only then, should he have called for a special session to take action. Instead, his panel will be bias to support his proposed ideas, traveling around the state to hear like-minded groups.
Third, the legislation that he referenced in his first news conference was considered in the 2019 session where each proposal received fair consideration and was defeated in committees of the House and Senate. Interestingly, not a single proposed change in the law would have prevented the Virginia Beach shooting.
He is proposing banning so-called assault weapons, but none were used.
He has proposed background checks in cases of private firearm sales; however, the shooter bought his weapons legally at places of business that did background checks.
These are only a couple of examples. Others would step on the rights of individuals while accomplishing little or nothing. We currently have laws to deal with criminal activity. Nothing that is probably going to come before the General Assembly will faze those who plan to break the law.
Fourth, there is not a single proposal that would have any effect on the real causes of these shootings.
The common thread that runs through each of the high-profile shootings is that firearms are barred by law from each building. The law bars them at schools and government buildings – essentially signaling to the evil doers the wrong message.
There is no proposal that addresses the fact that supervisors of the Virginia Beach shooter were concerned about anti-social behavior the last couple of years.
There is no proposal that allows an employee to keep a firearm within reach to protect themselves or fellow employees.
Finally, this has nothing to do with crime. It is purely politics, as I stated at the start of this column. One goal is to get the three top elected officials back on the front page and allow them to campaign for candidates for the races this fall. It also is a unifying issue that they hope will carry them to victory in November. They are quite willing to trample the rights of law-abiding Virginians just to take control of the General Assembly.
I expect that Governor Northam believes that he can become relevant in this election by either claiming his success on this issue or, more likely, why some of us should not be reelected.
Frank Ruff represents Lunenburg in the state Senate. His email address is Sen.Ruff@verizon.net.
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