Three days after a gunman fatally shot 12 people in Virginia Beach, State Sen. Majority Leader Tommy Norment said he expects the General Assembly to consider bills to limit the sales of extended magazines.
After a protest in front of Norment’s office in New Town, Norment, R-James City County, stepped to the side and said he expected both Democrats and Republicans to put forward gun control legislation in the next session of the General Assembly in 2020.
Specifically, Norment said he expects the General Assembly to tackle large-capacity or extended magazines.
“An extended magazine is optical, but does it change the outcome, I’m not sure, but it’s something the citizens like this would say at least it’s an incremental effort to do something,” Norment said. “At least that is an issue that it’s very easy to resolve.”
Magazines are ammunition storage and feeding devices integral to most firearms. Large-capacity magazines are capable of holding more rounds of ammunition than a standard number of rounds of ammunition as prescribed by a firearms manufacturer. Firearms accessories manufacturers sell large-capacity magazines for popular firearms such as Glock pistols, AR-15 rifles and other firearms.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives regional special agent Ashan Benedict said Saturday that the ATF believes the shooter in Virginia Beach used firearms he legally purchased in 2016 and 2018, according to The Virginian-Pilot.
In January, Norment voted with seven other senators in the State Senate’s Courts of Justice Committee to kill a bill to end the sale of large-capacity magazines in the state, according to the state’s legislative information system. Six other senators voted to keep the bill alive.
The bill would have limited the size of firearms magazines that could be sold to 10 rounds as has been proposed in previous years.
When protesters asked Norment about this vote and others over his 27 years in the Virginia Senate, he told protest organizer Christine Payne, 56 of James City County, if she didn’t like his record she could challenge him at the ballot box.
“Nothing would have helped us in Virginia Beach,” Norment told the crowd to jeers. He told the crowd he thought the General Assembly would act nonetheless.
“I think there are some things we can address (on gun violence),” Norment said without offering any specifics.
Norment later said he thought the General Assembly could look into curtailing possession of firearms by people connected to domestic violence incidents but didn’t elaborate on what the changes could be.
“We have had legislation extending it to boyfriend and girlfriend,” Norment said. “But that causes some of the lawyers real problems. If you and I go out on one date are we boyfriend-girlfriend?”
Norment said he wasn’t sure if the General Assembly could craft any legislation to stymie suicides.
More than 20,000 Americans killed themselves with firearms in 2017, according to the New York Times. Suicides by firearm are the largest group of gun deaths in America.
On Saturday, Norment told the Washington Post it was too early to have conversations on legislation and derided the calls for policy change.
Norment said Monday he didn't think it was appropriate to try and have meaningful policy discussions when the grief after the Virginia Beach massacre was raw.
“It’s not disrespectful that we should have the conversation, just the timing of the discussion,” Norment said. “I understand people’s passions.”
Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.