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McDonnell/Deeds vs Wilder/Cullen on Guns. Who's Right?

by: Goldmanusa

Tue Feb 07, 2012 at 08:51:34 AM EST


by Paul Goldman

Governor McDonnell and the man he beat in 2009, Senator Creigh Deeds, are joining together to do something one of the Governor's closest advisors - former Republican AG Richard Cullen - strongly opposes, along with former Governor Doug Wilder, who signed Virginia's "one handgun per month" limit into law.

But first, a little history of the issue. This is what Mr. Cullen, also the former federal prosecutor for the Eastern district of Virginia, had to say yesterday, after Deeds played a pivotal roll in overturning Virginia's one gun a month law.

In 1993, when the legislation passed [Wilder's baby], gun running was a major problem up and down the East Coast and I am convinced that this law had a significant impact in reducing gunrunning, so I'm disappointed that it's being repealed...I think we should be giving law enforcement tools, not taking them away. This is one of the few times I disagree with my Republican colleagues.
In 2005, then Mayor Doug Wilder refused to back Creigh Deeds for Attorney General due to the Democratic nominee's rejection of one-gun-a-month. It was my job to make sure the press understood the reasons for the Mayor's position. The position of Mr. Deeds on this particular issue always struck me as curious, given some of his other stances on related issues. But I didn't doubt the sincerity of his reasoning, only the conclusion.

In 2009, then former Mayor and Governor Wilder issued this statement as regards his refusal to endorse Mr. Deeds' once again, this time for Governor:

Goldmanusa :: McDonnell/Deeds vs Wilder/Cullen on Guns. Who's Right?

The present law [in Virginia] permits anyone of sufficient age, who is not a felon, to be able to buy one gun a month; twelve a year, twenty four a year for couples, etc...Mr. Deeds thinks that's not enough and signed a pledge to repeal that law. This action would allow the truck loads of guns to come back in exchange for drugs from those Northeastern states where gun laws are more stringent.

Accordingly, Senator Deeds made his position once again known to the public on this issue. So his having voted to repeal it can not be considered a surprise. Instead, to me, the really fascinating question going forward is whether Governor McDonnell agrees with his friend Mr. Cullen, and former Governor Wilder, as to the role played by the law in making Virginia not only safer, but making sure we weren't making things easier for the criminals and harder for law abiding citizens in other states.

There is another reason Mr. Deeds' position always struck me as odd: as I recall, the NRA signed off on the 1993 law. To be sure, the new digital universe provides law enforcement with new ways to protect us from the predators and the drug dealers. But the question is this: are we safer, is our state being the better neighbor, is the country better off now than it was in 1993 relative to the impact of the Wilder law?

Mr. Cullen, the expert, highly regarded in this area, said again: YES SIR!

To be sure, the one-handgun-a-month limit, even with the exceptions in the current law, does mean someone in Virginia can't do all the things a gun purchaser can do in say Nevada. But to say it violates the Second Amendment is absurd, nor has anyone ever shown how any law-abiding Virginian who wants to purchase a gun has been denied in any way the ability to exercise their second amendment rights.

Meaning: On a policy basis, when you weigh all the various interests, Mr. Cullen's point seems irrefutable, the same for Mr. Wilder's: the one-handgun-a-month law was good for Virginia and the country, with no negative affects on anyone's second amendment rights.

My suggestion to Governor McDonnell: send down an amendment (he isn't going to veto it) which delays implementation of repeal until he creates a panel of experts to review the situation to determine whether what Mr. Cullen and Mr. Wilder have said is correct in terms of why we still need the law. Such a group could have their report finished by May 1 at the latest: the law itself isn't going to go into affect until July 1 anyway.

If a panel of respected experts conclude that the law is not longer necessary to do what it had been intended to do because of law enforcement advances as the repealers claim, then it would be hard to fault the Governor for signing the repeal.

What's wrong with this approach?

There is a reason Democrats last elected an Attorney General in 1989. Perhaps Democrats need to run Mr. Cullen as AG in 2013, since he seems to have a very healthy respect of the law and understands that the more it becomes about politics, these respect it will get from future generations.

As Justice Holmes said, the law is the only thing keeping human nature from going back into the jungle of social, political and economic Darwinism.

It will be interesting to see if former Governor Wilder goes to the "mat," as they say, to get Governor McDonnell to show the public law enforcement in Virginia is about stopping the bad guys, not about handcuffing the police.  

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Questions? (0.00 / 0)
Paul, Did the NRA take a position on the 2012 legislation? Would you care to speculate as to why Creigh Deeds or John Edwards voted for repeal in 2012? Why did Tommy Norment vote against repeal?

Peter, per your request (0.00 / 0)

       As my I can remember, the NRA has been wanting this repeal for some time, but I can not say this for sure. Senator Deeds has had a consistent position against one-gun-a-month and this was part of his 2009 Governor's race. So he is just being consistent here, whether any other factors played a role is for others to speculate.

      As for Senator Edwards, I am not familar with his position on this particular issue over the years.

      He just got re-elected so it is hard to believe it is a purely political thing.

      As for Senator Norment, anything here would be pure speculation on my part.

      This one mathematical factor: with Deeds a sure bet to switch and join with 19 Republicans, this in a way gives Edwards, Norment, whatever a "free vote" in the sense that the repeal side is guaranteed 20 votes meaning the LG gets to break the tie: and he was going to vote for repeal.

      So in that sense, Norment and Edwards knew their votes didn't matter in terms of the final tally.

      Not to say this was type of thinking played a role.

      But it is not unknown for people to make strategic votes if they are trying to position themselves for battles later on.  


[ Parent ]
Media (0.00 / 0)
I must say that the media did not report the reason for Doug Wilder's refusal to support Creigh Deeds. The story simply became, "Wilder Refuses To Endorse Fellow Democrat." I guess that's what we get when the corporate media reports sound bites only and seeks out - sometimes even creates - conflict.

In terms of Wilder not supporting Deeds (0.00 / 0)

       The one-gun-a-month played a major role in my opinion. People talk a lot about personality conflicts and stuff. I never saw that, don't think it played any real role at all.

       Wilder didn't back Leslie Byrne in 2005 either. Tim Kaine had helped a lot in getting the Elected Mayor reforms passed in the General Assembly, it was a tough fight, Tim had tried himself as Mayor but couldn't get it done, a lot of resistance.

       Tim was a stand-up guy for that and Wilder appreciated it lot, I know I did having written the new law and having spent a summer collecting the signatures to get it on the referendum ballot.

      As for 2009, I had never talked to Wilder about the GUV race, and the Deeds folks made it clear they didn't want my help. I wrote at the time for Politico.com that in my view, Deeds had been thrown under the bus nationally early in October, and I believe former Governor Wilder realized that too probably even earlier.

      It is tough business at that level. The Deeds campaign was a sure loser once they let the Washington Post pressure them into writing his OPED piece making clear he intended to raise taxes for roads.

      Their politics were all wrong: but to be fair, I don't believe any of the three candidates for GOV  in the DEM primary could have beaten McDonnell in 2009, or even made it very close. Deeds won the primary but all that meant was a ticket to sure defeat.

      So while Deeds didn't run the best ever campaign, he had it a lot harder than Tim or Mark, hugely so.

      This isn't an excuse for him, but if you want to be a honest analyst, you have tell it like it was in this case.  


[ Parent ]
Kaine Urges McDonnell to Veto 1-Handgun-a-Month Repeal Legislation (0.00 / 0)
I am very disappointed in the General Assembly's actions toward repeal of one of Governor Doug Wilder's signature achievements - Virginia's one handgun per month law. I was also disappointed to see that at least two of the individuals in this U.S. Senate race, George Allen and Bob Marshall, have already voiced support for repeal of this legislation. I hope that others will stand with me in supporting this common sense measure which has improved public safety in Virginia and helped the Commonwealth shake its reputation as a supplier of handguns along the East Coast. The long-standing law strikes an appropriate balance between the 2nd amendment rights of Virginians and the public safety interests of our citizens.

Instead of focusing on jobs and the economy, Republicans in the General Assembly have taken a misguided and disappointing deviation into divisive social issues. At a time when too many of our fellow Virginians are still struggling in a tough economy, our leaders in Richmond should be focused on the issues that matter like education, jobs, economic development, workforce development, and transportation. I strongly urge Governor McDonnell to veto this legislation and urge all of Virginia's leaders in Richmond to renew their commitment to a focus on jobs and the economy.



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