After mass shooting, guns key issue in Virginia elections

After mass shooting, guns key issue in Virginia elections
The screen grab provided by the Missy for Senate campaign, shows a photo of an ad featuring Virginia Beach shooting survivor Karen Havekost. The campaign for Democratic candidate Missy Cotter Smasal began airing the ad "Karen" as she runs for Virginia state Senate. The TV spot quotes a woman who survived the Virginia Beach mass shooting in May and claims Republican incumbent Bill DeSteph hasn't done enough on gun control in the shooting's wake. (Missy for Senate)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — If Democrats score major victories in Virginia’s state legislative races next month, it could usher in a wave of stricter gun laws.

Gun control groups are spending millions to help Virginia Democrats win a majority in the state legislature. Republicans currently have a slim majority and have blocked efforts by Gov. Ralph Northam to mandate universal background checks and limit handgun purchases to once a month.

A perennial issue in Virginia campaigns, gun laws have taken on a new urgency since a mass shooting earlier this year in Virginia Beach left a dozen people and the gunman dead.

Only four states are holding legislative elections this year. Virginia is the only one where partisan control is up for grabs.