Va. Gov. Ralph Northam announces July legislative session on guns in response to Virginia Beach shooting

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday announced a special July legislative session on gun measures in the wake of last week's mass shooting in Virginia Beach that left 12 dead and several injured.

Apparently mocking the usual response to gun violence from gun-rights activists, the Democratic governor said, "votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers" were the best ways to respond to the May 31 rampage by city employee DeWayne Craddock. Craddock used two semi-automatic .45-caliber handguns, a silencer and extended magazines to kill 12 people in a municipal building.

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He was killed in a firefight with Virginia Beach police.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam makes remarks at a press conference dealing with gun violence in the state, inside the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, June 4, 2019. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam makes remarks at a press conference dealing with gun violence in the state, inside the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, June 4, 2019. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

Northam wants lawmakers to consider a ban on silencers, like the one used in last week's shooting, and universal background checks.

The Republican-led General Assembly appears unwilling to consider tougher gun-control measures. Republican leaders have said they will propose tougher penalties for people who use guns to commit crimes -- including new mandatory minimum sentences.

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“We believe addressing gun violence starts with holding criminals accountable for their actions, not infringing on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” GOP Speaker Kirk Cox said Tuesday.

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Craddock did not have a felony record and is believed to have purchased the weapons used in his attack legally.

Northam has advocated for expanded gun control legislation in the past and has an F rating from the National Rifle Association. Virginia is considered a gun-friendly state and is home to the NRA.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.