Donald Trump

Virginia Senate Panel Votes Down Push for Stricter Gun Laws

A Virginia state Senate panel has defeated a Democratic push for stricter gun laws.

A Republican-led panel voted Monday to block legislation that would allow cities and counties to ban firearms at certain public events.

The bill came in response to a violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville last summer, where several participants were heavily armed. Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe enacted similar rules on a temporary basis last November.

The panel also voted down a bill to expand mandatory background checks on gun buyers. The vote comes two days after newly sworn-in Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, pushed for universal background checks during his inaugural address.

Fights over a gun laws are a perennial issue in Virginia's General Assembly, with Republicans favoring less restrictions and Democrats favoring additional ones.

But this year's fight comes a few months after a Democratic wave powered by voter dislike of President Donald Trump that saw Northam easily win election and Republicans take heavy losses in the state House. The GOP maintains a slim majority in both chambers.

The legislation's defeat came just two days after Northam's inaugural address, where he exhorted lawmakers to pass stricter gun laws.

After the vote, he told a crowd of gun-control advocates who held a rally on Capitol Square that he was "just getting warmed up" and would continue to press the issue forcefully.

"Don't give up," Northam said. "Continue your hope."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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