What Impacts Could the Special Session Have In November?

Jun 4, 2019

Credit AP Photo / Steve Helber

Lawmakers will be returning to Richmond for a special session on guns. But will anything happen?

Democrats want background checks for firearm transfers, but Republicans blocked that from coming to the floor. Democrats want to ban guns designed to hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, but Republicans also blocked that from coming to the floor. These are two of the 14 bills from earlier this year that Democrats want reconsidered in light of the shooting at Virginia Beach.

Rachel Bitecofer at Christopher Newport University says the dynamics of this special session will be very different.

“The only thing on the legislative agenda are these bills," she explains. "So if the Republicans want to kill them in committee, it’s going to happen with a great deal of sunshine.”

And that sunshine will be shining during a campaign when every member of the General Assembly will be on the ballot this November.

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says that changes the dynamic significantly.

“If the Republicans bottle everything up in committee the way that occurred during the general session, the Republicans are probably going to lose their legislative majorities and these bills may very well pass next year,” says Farnsworth.

Even if nothing happens during the special session this summer, the lack of action might emerge as a major campaign issue this fall. That could mean a shifting political landscape for gun control when the General Assembly convenes again for next year’s session in January.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.