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."
It remained murky, though, as to why the Republican leader 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.
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." Officials with the National Rifle Association waited in the Capitol Tuesday when Republican lawmakers met in caucus before the noon session. One of them, Christopher Kopacki, declined to comment on Norment's bill.
Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County, said Tuesday that he offered his resignation as Senate majority whip to protest Senate Norment's bill.
Stanley spoke on the John Fredericks Radio Show as legislators prepared to convene at noon for Gov. Ralph Northam's special session on gun violence. Northam called the special session following the May 31 mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center and hundreds of protesters on both sides of the issue gathered Tuesday near the state Capitol.
Stanley later said in an interview that his caucus "voted me back in."
Stanley had said on the radio show that Norment's bill would make a felon out of a grandmother with a concealed weapons permit who accidentally carried a gun into a municipal building in her purse.
"How is that a great strategy? Quite frankly, I think it's a betrayal," Stanley said.
"I offered my resignation as the majority whip because I think we've tried to fool our caucus. And I'm not standing for it. I didn't come down here for this," Stanley said.
"And so I'm upset. I am stunned. I am dumbfounded and I'm mad. And he knows it. The rest of the leadership knows it."
Stanley said that if Northam "gets one bill out of here he declares total victory."
Stanley said his Southside Senate district strongly backs the 2nd Amendment.
"I'm in leadership and I told everybody down there, Tommy's strong on the 2nd Amendment, don't you worry, we're never going to make a deal."