The gun-control group Everytown for Gun Safety announced on Wednesday it will pour an additional $100,000 into the Virginia general election to promote candidates who support new gun safety legislation.
Virginia has already become a heated battleground in the debate over gun control, with gun-rights groups such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun-control groups launching pressure campaigns and political ads to influence the upcoming elections on November 5, when the state's entire General Assembly will be on the ballot.
The outsize push for gun reform in the state, an unusually focused agenda for national interest groups, comes after a gunman stormed a municipal building in Virginia Beach in May. The shooter, a longtime city employee, killed 12 people and injured several others. He was himself killed in a firefight with police officers responding to the scene.
Several days after the incident, Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, announced he would convene a special legislative session to address gun violence. Following the announcement, attention from groups on both sides of the debate entered the fray, seeking to compel legislators to support their respective agendas. The NRA even "set up shop" inside the conference room of the speaker of the House of Delegates, Republican Kirk Cox, and engaged in a massive pressure campaign involving grassroots supporters to scuttle the effort, which included town halls attended by hundreds of residents.