FILE - In this Jan. 11, 2012, file photo, State Sen. Tommy Norment, R-James City County, looks over rules of the Senate during debate on the new Senate rules at the start of the 2012 session of the Virginia Senate at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. Norment is calling for a broad ban on guns in government buildings, a surprise legislation he filed the day before state lawmakers are set to debate gun laws. He filed a bill Monday, July 8, 2019, that would extend a state prohibition on guns in courthouses to any "building owned or used by a locality for governmental purposes." (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Virginia lawmakers to debate gun laws after mass shooting

July 09, 2019 - 9:40 am

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia lawmakers are set to debate and vote on new gun laws after a gunman killed a dozen people in a local government building.

Gov. Ralph Northam ordered lawmakers to return to the Capitol and called for passage of a wide range of gun-control measures. The Democrat said people need "votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers" after a Virginia Beach city employee shot and killed 12 people on May 31.

GOP lawmakers criticized Northam as trying to exploit a tragedy for political gain. And in the leadup to Tuesday's session, Republican leaders who control the legislature signaled they wouldn't pass gun controls, focusing instead on increasing criminal penalties after gun crimes.

But Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment filed surprise legislation Monday to broadly ban guns in any government building.

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