(Reuters) – Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s push for new gun control laws after the May massacre of 12 people in Virginia Beach flopped when the Republican-controlled state legislature acquiesced to his call for a July special session but left without a vote.
But Northam saw new hope on Wednesday for his gun measures after voters flipped control of both chambers of the statehouse to his fellow Democrats for the first time in a quarter century.
“They want us to finally pass commonsense gun safety legislation, so no one has to fear being hurt or killed while at school, at work, or at their place of worship,” Northam said hours after the election results. “I look forward to working with our new Democratic majority to make these priorities a reality.”
The legislature will take on several proposals, including banning assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines and raising the minimum age to 21 from 18 to buy a rifle or shotgun, said Dick Saslaw, the top Democrat in the state Senate.
The United States has seen a steady stream of mass shootings in recent years, including the massacre of 58 people at a Las Vegas country music concert in 2017, and a pair of back-to-back shootings this past summer in Texas and Ohio that left 22 dead.
While congressional Democrats have called for new gun laws since those attacks, and President Donald Trump at times has voiced openness to the idea, Republicans have blocked them, arguing that restrictions on firearms violated the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.