Northam’s Political Stunt
Well, that didn’t work.
Gov. Ralph Northam’s desperate attempt to change the conversation from his embarrassing blackface scandal to gun control by exploiting the tragedy in Virginia Beach was derailed on Tuesday in 90 minutes.
Instead of hastily voting on 30 cobbled-together gun control bills cooked up in the past several weeks, state lawmakers sent the measures to the bipartisan Virginia State Crime Commission where they can be studied and burnished before being put to a vote.
Then the legislature adjourned.
Any vote on the measures will come AFTER the November elections.
Excellent. Laws should be crafted with care, not thrown together in the throes of emotion. As the old saw goes: Act in haste, repent in leisure.
Thus ends the governor’s ghoulish attempt to use the deaths of innocent people in Virginia Beach to advance his long-time political agenda.
Oh, he and others will try to portray their opponents as being beholden to the NRA. But the fact is, it’s unlikely that any of the proposals would have saved a single life in Virginia Beach. And gun control advocates know that.
Oh wait. There was Sen. Dick Black’s proposal that would have prevented municipalities from barring their employees to bring firearms to work.
Politicians like Northam have been itching to pass gun control measures for years. No sooner had news of the massacre gone out than the governor and his advisors began plotting how to use the unspeakable tragedy to their advantage.
Four days after the shootings, Northam announced that he was summoning the legislature back for a special session on gun control. At taxpayers’ expense, of course.
It was a stunt. A cynical one. Tim Kaine, when he was governor in 2007, had the decency to appoint a bipartisan commission to study the Virginia Tech massacre and make recommendations aimed at preventing another such slaughter.
The Roanoke Times editorial page urged Northam to do the same a few days ago instead of setting up predictable battle lines between Democrats and Republicans with predictable outcomes.
“Gov. Tim Kaine did something remarkable,” the Times editorial recalled. “ He ordered a study of what happened and what could be done to prevent another such mass shooting.
Kaine put together an all-star commission. It was led by Gerald Massengill, the retired superintendent of Virginia State Police. It included an FBI expert in violent behavioral problems. It included a professor of psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University. It included Diane Strickland, a retired circuit court judge from Roanoke and an expert on mental health commitments. It included a lot of other experts in their fields.
Most notably, Kaine, a Democrat, cast politics aside when he put together the panel. He recruited Tom Ridge, the former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, and the first Secretary of Homeland Security in the administration of George W. Bush — who, we should remember, was regarded by Democrats at the time as a complete ogre. Kaine put a former Bush cabinet member on the panel anyway.”
That commission produced a long report and made 72 recommendations. Some were put into effect. Not all.
Instead of acting in a way that might promote healing and actually do something to prevent shootings, Northam took the route of political hackery.
No Virginian should be fooled. Northam’s gambit was all about making a calculated political move in an election year. It was an attempt to divert attention away from the trifecta of scandals plaguing top Virginia Democrats.
Northam said the outcome of Tuesday’s aborted session was “shameful and disappointing.”
The exact adjectives many of us would use to describe him.