Ralph Northam. Opportunist.
Readers of this space know I have little affection for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.
I was agnostic on the politician from the Eastern Shore until he ran for the commonwealth’s top office in 2017 and merrily slandered his opponent - the mainstream Ed Gillespie - as a racist. All because the Republican wanted to crack down on MS-13, the ruthless street gang with thousands of members living in Northern Virginia.
In that race Northam showed that he’d say and do anything to get elected.
On Tuesday, just four days after a deranged Virginia Beach city employee slaughtered 12 people, Northam once again demonstrated that he’s a political opportunist.
Before the dead in the Beach shootings could be buried, before law enforcement could conclude its investigation, Northam breathlessly announced that he’s convening a special session of the General Assembly to push gun control measures.
To paraphrase former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel: Never let a tragedy go to waste.
Gun control has long been on Northam’s to-do list. When most of his anti-gun agenda died in the General Assembly session of 2018 Northam declared he was “just getting warmed up.”
Apparently the mass shooting in Virginia Beach revved his engine.
And frankly, what better way to divert attention from his own tawdry scandals than to change the conversation to guns while emotions are still raw from a mass shooting.
Makes you wonder if Northam’s crisis management team urged him to jump on the tragedy. Northam doesn’t do a lot of thinking for himself, as we learned recently when an investigation into the racist photo on his yearbook page revealed that the governor initially admitted to being in the photo at the urging of his aides who prepared the confession that he released and later denied.
Never mind that the Virginia Beach shooter apparently used legally acquired handguns in his murder spree. That he could - and probably did - pass background checks to buy them. Northam and others have seized on the fact that the killer reportedly used a suppressor on his handguns. Ban suppressors, they say. And bump stocks.
News flash, Governor: Bump stocks were banned everywhere in the U.S. by the Trump administration on March 26. And suppressors are already illegal in Virginia Beach. It’s one of the cities grandfathered in on an old Virginia suppressor ban.
If Virginia is going to ban high-capacity magazines - a measure that might get bipartisan support - it should be taken up during a regular General Assembly session, not in a hastily called meeting by a posturing governor.
Northam’s call for a special session to try to ram through gun control measures is an attempt to show muscle and leadership.
He possesses neither.
Northam is a politician. Doing what politicians do.