Senate Republican Majority Leader Tommy Norment caused a stir in the Capitol Monday after he filed a bill that would ban the public from bringing guns into local government buildings, something gun-rights groups strongly oppose.
By Tuesday afternoon, Norment announced through an aide that he would move to strike the bill.
“As currently drafted, the legislation represents neither my views nor my intention. I do not support – nor will I support – any measure that restricts the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” Norment said in a statement sent by email shortly after a special session of the General Assembly on gun legislation began.
The House and Senate both adjourned Tuesday until after the November election, but committees will hear gun legislation Tuesday afternoon.
It remained murky as to why the Republican leader, who has a history of bringing up certain legislation for votes to make political points, would introduce a bill that he didn’t support. The legislation would amend the state law that prohibits the public from bringing guns into courthouses and make it also apply to local government buildings. Violations would be a felony offense.
Norment told a Hampton Roads TV reporter that he wanted to strike the bill because it could apply to police. However, amending the bill in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee to exempt police would be a quick fix.
Norment declined to comment to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
When told Norment would need to explain why he introduced a bill he didn’t support, spokesman Jeff Ryer said by email: “If he answered that, he might have to acknowledge your reporting was correct. Hmmmm … I’m betting ‘no.’”
The Virginia Citizens Defense League, the leading gun rights organization in Virginia, said in a statement early Tuesday that Norment’s legislation “stabs gun owners in the back.”