Charlottesville-Inspired Bills to Prevent Another Deadly Rally Go Nowhere in Virginia
Almost seven months after Charlottesville became synonymous with resurgent white supremacy and political violence, the Virginia General Assembly has rejected virtually every legislative proposal stemming from the deadly rally that shook the city last summer.
It came as no surprise that the Republican-controlled legislature blocked bills to let Confederate statues come down just a few years after voting to strengthen a statue-protection law that may block Charlottesville from removing its statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
“I think that there is such a strong element in this body that people feel their heritage is being assailed and they don’t want to embrace anything that makes it easier for localities to do more than they’re already doing,” said House Minority Leader David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, who sponsored several unsuccessful bills inspired by the violence in his home district.
A variety of bills aimed at giving local officials and law enforcement more power to control political rallies that could turn riotous were also voted down, despite two post-rally reviews recommending legislative action to help prevent a repeat of the chaos that broke out at the Aug. 12 “Unite the Right” rally.
Multiple bills were filed to let local governments ban guns at permitted political rallies or other public events with large crowds, a key recommendation included in both a state report on the rally and an independent review commissioned by the city. The legislation was killed off in the House of Delegates and the Senate before reaching the floor for debate.
Other bills that failed in committees would have added Charlottesville and Albemarle County to a list of Virginia localities with expanded powers to ban guns loaded with high-capacity magazines from being carried in public.