RICHMOND, Va. — An intensifying debate over guns has led to increased partisan tension in the Virginia’s House of Delegates.

Lawmakers exchanged harsh words Friday in lengthy speeches about the issue, with both parties accusing the other of distorting their views.

Republicans, led by Del. Nick Freitas, said they were tired of being unfairly demonized for supporting gun rights in the wake of a deadly high school shooting in Florida last month. Democrats have unsuccessfully pushed for gun control legislation both before and after the shooting.

In a speech, Freitas reminded Democrats that it was their party that had previously supported slavery and segregation.

Democrat Del. Joseph Lindsey accused Freitas of deliberately making an offensive speech aimed garnering publicity. Freitas is seeking the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine.