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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam calls for special legislative session on gun control

virginia beach shooting mourning site
Mourners at the Virginia Beach tribute site. Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced that the state's legislature will begin a special session this summer on gun control, AP reports.

The big picture: Northam, a Democrat, said he wants the state to focus on "votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers," forcing members of the Republican-controlled legislature to go on the record on the issue. The decision comes days after 12 people died in a mass shooting in Virginia Beach.

The state of play: Northam wants the legislature to debate bills that include ...

  • A ban on silencers.
  • A ban on high capacity ammunition magazines.
  • Granting local governments more power to limit guns in city buildings.

The other side: Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox said that Northam's decision is "more likely to inflame political tensions than produce substantive public policy changes." He signaled that Republicans in the legislature would pursue a different path for reform, increasing mandatory minimums and efforts to strengthen mental health systems.

"The Governor's call to Special Session is hasty and suspect when considered against the backdrop of the last few months, While the Governor can call a special session, he cannot specify what the General Assembly chooses to consider or how we do our work. We intend to use that time to take productive steps to address gun violence by holding criminals accountable with tougher sentences — including mandatory minimums."

Go deeper: What we know so far: 12 dead in Virginia Beach shooting