RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is defending recently signed gun-control legislation after President Donald Trump accused the state of “trying to take your guns away.”
Northam did not directly engage Trump when asked about the president’s critique Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” But Northam defended the legislation itself. He said the seven bills that he signed into law came after voters elected a Democratic majority to the General Assembly because they were upset with Republican inaction in the face of mass shootings.
“Virginians stood up. They spoke. They said, ‘Enough is enough.’ They said that thoughts and prayers, we appreciate those, but we want legislators that will come to Richmond and take votes and pass laws,” Northam said.
Northam did take a jab at Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying “our president, obviously, has been unable to deliver on tests” to determine whether people have been infected with the coronavirus.
Northam said Trump and administration officials are “delusional” when they assert that states have enough testing material to determine if it is appropriate to start re-opening shuttered businesses. Northam, like other governors, said that basic materials like testing swabs are in short supply.
“For the national level say that we have what we need, and really to have no guidance to the state levels, is just irresponsible, because we’re not there yet,” Northam said.
At a press conference Saturday, Trump launched an attack on Virginia’s gun legislation, and seemed to link the gun-control bills to the coronavirus pandemic, even though most of the bills were key issues in the fall campaign and were introduced before the virus arrived in the U.S.
“Virginia is a great case, though because they are using this, they are trying to take your guns away in Virginia and if people in Virginia aren’t–aren’t careful that’s what’s going to happen to them,” Trump said Saturday.
On Friday, Trump tweeted “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!” Trump also urged the liberation of Minnesota and Michigan, though he made no mention of control in those states.
The legislation enacted in Virginia institutes universal background checks and re-imposes a one handgun-per-month limit that had previously been imposed in the state, among other changes.