August 19, 2019 Press Releases and Announcements


by Democratic Party of Virginia


Today and Tomorrow, Obenshain-Bell led Crime Commission will "study" bills Virginia Republicans refused to take action on during special session they fled after 90 minutes

RICHMOND, VA - During a special legislative session to address gun violence after the shooting in Virginia Beach, Republicans in the General Assembly cut and ran, voting to adjourn after 90 minutes and sending all 60 bills to the Virginia Crime Commission, instead of debating them in the legislature. 

In the time between Virginia Republicans’ cowardly adjournment and today’s first meeting of the Crime Commission, hundreds of Americans have been killed and injured in mass shootings in El Paso, Dayton, Gilroy, and many other heartbroken American cities and towns.

So who is in charge of the Virginia Crime Commission, which Virginia Republicans used as an excuse to walk out of the July 9 special session after 90 minutes? The Commission is led by two of the NRA’s most trusted hatchet men, Senator Mark Obenshain (Commission Chair) and Delegate Rob Bell (Commission Vice Chair).

The Democratic Party of Virginia's Communication Director Jake Rubenstein had this to say of the Virginia Crime Commission's leadership, "By kicking gun violence prevention to Mark Obenshain and Rob Bell, Virginia Republicans might as well have just brought in the NRA to run today and tomorrow's Crime Commission meeting. We will not let Republicans forget they are the cowards who ran from the July special session after 90 minutes instead of keeping Virginians safe from the next El Paso, the next Dayton, the next Parkland, the next Virginia Beach. Virginians refuse to believe that gun extremists Mark Obenshain and Rob Bell 'studying' the issue is a serious step. It is another insult to Virginians who want and need action on this issue immediately." 

The leadership of the Crime Commission - which convenes today at 10:00AM stands firmly opposed to any progress on gun control measures. We previewed Chairman Obenshain’s disgusting record on gun safety last week, now let us take a look at Vice-Chairman Rob Bell - who also has a lifetime “A rating” from the NRA and an abysmal record on gun safety issues. Bell’s voting record includes: 

  • CRIME COMMISSION VICE CHAIRMAN ROB BELL voted  in favor of a bill (SB 476) that would allow concealed carry permit holders to carry firearms in clubs and bars and consume alcohol at the discretion of the bar’s owner
  • CRIME COMMISSION VICE CHAIRMAN ROB BELL voted in favor of a bill (SB 1035) to allow guns in alcohol serving establishments
  • CRIME COMMISSION VICE CHAIRMAN ROB BELL voted to repeal the “one gun a month” law that limited the number of handguns one could buy 

Bell was also featured on a list of delegates who received them most campaign cash from the NRA in the previous General Assembly election cycle. 

And as a reminder, the Chairman of the Crime Commission, Senator Mark Obenshain, has a career-long track record of doing the NRA’s bidding, supporting dangerous gun legislation and opposing common sense safety measures.

  • CRIME COMMISSION CHAIRMAN OBENSHAIN voted for SB 1035, SB 476, and to repeal the “one gun a month” law
  • CRIME COMMISSION CHAIRMAN OBENSHAIN voted against a bill (SB 1257) that would require background checks on buyers at gun shows. In total, Obenshain has voted against expanding background checks for gun buyers over a dozen times. 
  • CRIME COMMISSION CHAIRMAN OBENSHAIN voted an A rating from the NRA in his 2011, 2013, and 2015 elections. 
  • CRIME COMMISSION CHAIRMAN OBENSHAIN voted for a bill (SB1364) to allow guns in child day care centers 

Obenshain made his opposition to all gun safety measures crystal clear this year when he said that Virginia legislators would be doing the people they serve “a grave disservice” if they supported a gun control bill.