RICHMOND, Va. - Gun law discussions in Virginia are now on hold after Republicans called off Tuesday's special legislative session, which Democrats scheduled to respond to May's Virginia Beach shooting.
Republicans used their power in the General Assembly to put the discussions on hold until at least November.
What was expected to be a showdown in Richmond between Democrats pushing for gun control and Republicans fighting back ended after less than two hours.
Republicans have the majority in the General Assembly and they voted to send the bills to the Virginia State Crime Commission, which has six Republican members and only three Democrats.
That group will then give its recommendations in November or later.
Sen. Steve Newman, a Republican leader representing the Lynchburg area, said ending the discussion was their plan all along, but they kept it a secret until now.
"I'm very pleased with that approach and in the long run, that will be the approach that is the most desirable," Newman said.
Republicans said they want to follow the strategy then-Governor and Democrat Tim Kaine took after the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shooting.
"Governor Tim Kaine said at that time we should not act in the moment and do it in a political way," Newman said.
The GOP is still going to push for its own bills covering security in government buildings, reporting workplace threats and criminal sentencing, among others.
"Their narrative is gun control. Our narrative is to find solutions that save lives," said Republican Sen. Bill Stanley, who represents Franklin County.
Democrats are upset and Sen. John Edwards, who represents Roanoke, said everyone is disappointed.
"This is a complete abdication of responsibility to the voters of Virginia. We came out here to do a job and Republicans went out of their way to push it off so we couldn't do the job that we were asked to do," Edwards said.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw was animated Tuesday, saying the NRA has too much power.
"It's not a defeat for Democrats or governor. It's a defeat for the people in this state who are fed up with gun violence in this country," Saslaw said.
Demonstrators from Roanoke fighting for stricter gun laws walked away disappointed after the long bus ride to the state capitol.
"I think we're just making very commonsense reform ideas that would make everyone safe, including them," said Beth Deel, who lives in Roanoke and made the trip Tuesday.
"I'm tired of people who I go to school with not graduate because they are shot and killed in the very neighborhoods that I grew up in," said Louis Garcia, a Patrick Henry High School student who also made the trip.
It was well known that gun laws would be a campaign issue come November, but now they'll be front and center as all seats in the General Assembly will be on the ballot.
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