VIRGINIA GOV. Ralph Northam (D) took office with an inaugural speech reminding lawmakers that “Virginians didn’t send us here to be Democrats or Republicans — they sent us here to solve problems.” Two days after that eloquent bid for bipartisanship for the good of the commonwealth, Republicans responded. Their uncompromising answer: Not so much.
In summarily rejecting a package of gun-control bills backed by Mr. Northam, a Republican-controlled Senate committee made clear it had no interest in working with the governor on his legislative priorities. That Virginia voters showed support for these initiatives by electing Mr. Northam didn’t seem to matter. Did Republicans learn anything from last fall’s elections?
Voting largely along party lines, the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on Monday rejected a number of modest measures proposed by Democrats to combat gun violence. The legislation that was voted down included requiring background checks for all gun purchases, mandating that gun owners report lost or stolen weapons and allowing localities to ban firearms at permitted events. In addition to not listening to an electorate that gave Mr. Northam a landslide victory and elected other gun-control proponents in upset races, Senate Republicans also paid no heed to last year’s violence at a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville where the response of authorities was inhibited by the heavy presence of guns.
Bills similar to those killed by the Senate are pending in the House. Since Republicans only have control of the House because they were lucky in what was basically a coin toss to decide the outcome of one seat, one would think — or at least hope — they might be more responsive and responsible on this issue. Time will soon tell.
Mr. Northam, for his part, vowed not to give up. “As long as Virginians’ lives are at risk because there are too many guns in the hands of people who would use them to harm others, we will fight on this ground,” he said Monday after the defeat of the gun-control measures in the Senate committee. That Mr. Northam came under immediate criticism from Republicans for a campaign-style tone is pretty rich considering the success of his most recent campaign and the refusal of Republicans to recognize it by working him even a little bit on needed gun control.