Proposed firearms regulations will pack a General Assembly meeting room Monday and Tuesday, and for that portion of the population not already locked into an ideological position either way, it could be useful to pay attention.
The Republican majorities have taken some political bashing for failing to act on the flood of proposals, many previously seen and rejected, that showed up when Governor Ralph Northam sought to railroad them through a hasty special session after the Virginia Beach shooting. But the ideas are going to get a better hearing at the Crime Commission next week than they would have when introduced.
Not that Monday and Tuesday won’t be a circus. The Crime Commission has issued special directives about access to the committee room, the largest in the Pocahontas Building, and how speakers should conduct themselves in Tuesday afternoon’s public hearing portion.
Attorney General Mark Herring chose last week, on the eve of this meeting, to issue an opinion that might be used to rein in any actions by armed citizens play acting at being real peace officers or militia. He was responding to Delegate Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria), who complained that similar activity at the special session intimidated citizens lined up outside the Pocahontas Building. It was likely a class 1 misdemeanor, he said.
With that, the action outside the building could get as interesting as inside. All of which argues for watching the hearing via streaming, or just reviewing the presentations later if they are posted on the Crime Commission’s website.
The Crime Commission’s reports and recommendations are well respected, usually. Republicans have six of the nine legislative seats, but there are three gubernatorial appointees and Herring’s chief deputy sits on the panel in his stead. This is not some 7 a.m. subcommittee meeting where bills will die before the coffee cools.
And the first day is dominated by eight relevant background reports, bound to irritate or cheer one camp or the other, with both probably unhappy over something that they hear. Neither side welcomes challenges to its conclusions. However, even the Washington Post can’t ignore some facts. Who knew that felons could still get guns and shoot cops? It was news to the Post that crooks ignore sensible gun safety laws, apparently.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will report on the state of federal law. The Virginia State Police will talk about firearms transactions and ties to gun violence. The Virginia Department of Health and the Office of Chief Medical Examiner will have hard numbers on Virginia injuries and deaths. There will be more of a national focus in the afternoon, including a report from the U.S. Secret Service that may focus on a study already mentioned on Bacon’s Rebellion.
The second day, starting at noon because of the Governor’s morning presentation to the money committees on Fiscal Year 2019 data, will turn to public comments and then – after all that – patron presentations of their bills. Here’s the list as it stands. They’ll get only a few minutes each, if that.
With President Donald Trump’s recent vague endorsement of more widespread background checks (universal is a myth) and some form of “red flag” gun confiscation scheme those approaches may take on more steam in the U.S. Senate. Whether they gain enough Republican votes to pass the Virginia General Assembly post-election remains to be seen, but their state passage in 2020 if there is a power shift is all but assured.
The General Assembly flips and Christmas shopping lists in many households will add a stop at Green Top. Hmm, a sale on Smith and Wesson.
A late legislative entry that has drawn some cautious bipartisan support was offered by House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert. His House Bill 4032 is focused on broad violence prevention efforts, reaching far beyond the mentally unstable or ideologically motivated mass murderers who have driven this back to front burner. Richmond weekends have ended recently with dead and wounded counts that are simply slow-motion mass murder.
The special session is not set to meet again until after the November elections, and given the total partisan divide on the issue it is reasonable to give the voters a chance. They won’t admit it, but a successful compromise that defused the issue now is hardly the Democrats’ goal. They want a clear message of vote for us and get gun control. Unless things really quiet down nationally, we have our number one issue for this election.There are currently no comments highlighted.