Fight Over Gov. McAuliffe’s Gun Deal with the NRA Escalates in Virginia

Fight Over Gov. McAuliffe’s Gun Deal with the NRA Escalates in Virginia


by Lowell

I’ve been communicating with Gun Violence Prevention (GVP) folks, Virginia Democratic elected officials and Democratic politicos about Gov. McAuliffe’s deal with the NRA, and if anything I’d say that anger and confusion about what’s going on here is increasing, not decreasing in intensity.

For their part, the McAuliffe folks are resorting to smearing their former allies (how close allies? see the video from January 18, 2016 where McAuliffe agrees with the GVP folks, heaps praise on them, and warns about the many bad gun bills in the General Assembly this year) and admired figures like Lori Haas, Andy Parker, etc. It’s truly an astounding state of affairs, and one that should be highly troubling both for likely and potential Virginia Democratic candidates in 2017, but also for Hillary Clinton – who has campaigned to the “left” of Bernie Sanders on guns – this year.

First, though, let’s just briefly recap the main points the GVP folks are making against McAuliffe’s “ugly” (as they call it) deal with the NRA.

  • On the voluntary background checks and gun shows, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) notes in its point-by-point rebuttal of this deal that “no private seller would ever actually be REQUIRED to run such a check on their buyers.”
  • On the protective orders/domestic violence piece, CSGV, argues: “This would apply only to permanent protective orders in cases of family abuse. The bill establishes no mechanism for the removal of these firearms by law enforcement, however, so if abusers don’t voluntarily relinquish them, they aren’t going anywhere.”
  • On concealed carry reciprocity, CSGV argues that “Virginia would extend concealed carry reciprocity to all 49 other states, which would EXCEED the # of states Virginia was granting reciprocity to before Attorney General Herring revoked reciprocity agreements with 25 states that did not meet Virginia’s permitting standards.”
  • Everytown for Gun Safety argues that Gov. McAuliffe’s gun deal will “make it legal for out-of-state criminals and domestic abusers to carry concealed, loaded guns in Virginia.”
  • GVP activist Andy Parker, whose daughter was killed on live TV, asks, “if it is a meaningful deal, then why is it that the NRA and their local minions are the only ones who are celebrating it?”
  • The GVP folks are further arguing that this deal puts more Virginians in jeopardy than it protects, that it doesn’t enhance public safety, that much of it is weak and/or unenforceable, that it undercuts AG Mark Herring, etc, etc. And they’re implying political retribution if this deal isn’t killed.
So…no, it doesn’t appear that the anger by GVP folks is subsidizing. To the contrary, it seems to be increasing. Meanwhile, for their part, the McAuliffe folks have basically gone on a rampage, lashing out against their former “friends” and supposed allies in the GVP community. Among other things, the Washington Post story  has the McAuliffe folks falsely claiming that they don’t even know who to call at Michael Bloomberg’s “Everytown,” even though “McAuliffe told reporters in the fall that he had personally called Bloomberg’s ‘people’ to arrange for the ad buy,” and even though “Everytown” spent an enormous $2.4 million in support of McAuliffe’s hand-picked State Senate candidates (Jeremy McPike, Dan Gecker, etc.) in 2015. Riiiight…never heard of these guys from New York, uh huh! McAuliffe also recently agreed with a right-wing talk show host’s characterization of GVP advoates like Lori Haas and Andy Parker as “extremists.” WTF?

As for Virginia Tech mom and GVP activist Lori Haas, the McAuliffe folks basically are saying she’s a liar, claiming that Haas “was fully briefed and apprised of the discussion [over the gun deal with the NRA, negotiated over an “oyster dinner” with “Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran and Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney…with two NRA lobbyists and Sen. Bryce E. Reeves…one of the legislature’s strongest gun rights voices”] and even “provided input.” Yet for her part, and according other Virginia GVP activists, they were absolutely NOT part of the discussion, were NOT fully briefed, were blindsided after this was a “done deal,” etc. As Haas puts it: “I was told about the deal less than 48 hours before The Washington Post broke the story. I was not brought in. I was told about the deal.”

So, that’s the sorry state of affairs we now find ourselves in. And why was this deal negotiated in the first place? Nobody can seem to figure that out, as it’s now clear there was NOT a veto-proof majority in the State Senate to ditch AG Mark Herring’s actions on concealed carry reciprocity, a big victory that had come at no cost. So what was the sudden need to throw that away and negotiate with the extremists at the NRA all about? That’s what so many Democrats and others I’ve talked to in recent days are just baffled (and worried) about.