Date set for session on guns after Virginia Beach shooting

(Southside Daily/Courtesy of the city of Virginia Beach)
(Southside Daily/Courtesy of the city of Virginia Beach)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Virginia’s governor has set a July 9 start date for a special legislative session on gun-related legislation after last week’s deadly shooting rampage here.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced the date Friday.

The Democratic governor says the best way to respond to the May 31 mass shooting at a municipal building is with “votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers.” He wants the Republican-led General Assembly to consider gun-control measures including universal background checks and a ban on silencers . Police say the gunman who fatally shot 12 people used a silencer.

Northam can call the session but can’t dictate how it’s conducted. Republican leaders have given little indication they plan to follow his agenda.

Instead, they’ve said they’ll propose tougher penalties for those who use guns to commit crimes.

Twelve people died after a gunman opened fire inside Building 2 of the city’s Municipal Center.

Among were four engineers who worked to maintain streets and protect wetlands and three right-of-way agents who reviewed property lines. Others included an account clerk, a technician, an administrative assistant and a special projects coordinator.

Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera identified the shooter, who died in a gunbattle with police, as a longtime city employee who worked as an engineer in the Municipal Complex. The shooter sent an emailed resignation letter to his boss just hours before the shooting.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.