One of Gov. McAuliffe’s main arguments for making his gun deal with the NRA is that if he hadn’t, the Virginia General Assembly would have passed legislation overturning AG Mark Herring’s action on concealed carry reciprocity with enough votes to override McAuliffe’s veto. This afternoon, that was kinda sorta put to the test, and indeed, enough Democrats (6 — Barker, Deeds, Edwards, Lewis, Petersen, Saslaw) voted for Republican Sen. Bryce Reeves’ SB 610 (” Provides that a holder of a concealed handgun permit issued by any state who is at least 21 years of age is authorized to carry a concealed handgun in Virginia”). Which seems to support Gov. McAuliffe’s argument that he had to cut a deal.
Except for two major problems.
First, if you look at the list of Democrats who voted for SB 610, it’s a bit odd, with 0% VCDL/21% NRA-rated Sen. Dick Saslaw voting for the bill, as did 7% NRA-rated Sen. George Barker. Strange, huh? Second, of course this wasn’t a vote to override Gov. McAuliffe’s veto, but simply a vote on whether or not to pass SB 610; a veto vote undoubtedly would have seen at least Saslaw and Barker voting to sustain McAuliffe’s veto.
Again, though, it’s hard to overstate what happened her: even with enormous pressure from the governor’s office to support him on his gun deal, Gov. McAuliffe lost 13 of 19 Senate Democrats on today’s vote on concealed-carry reciprocity. And at least 2 of the Democrats who voted “yes” are not normally pro-gun, so…conclude from that what you will. Anyway, in the end Gov. McAuliffe, despite a full-court press, couldn’t even hold 1/3 of the Democratic caucus in the State Senate on his supposedly great (not!) gun deal with the NRA.
Final point: although there’s a wee bit of support here FOR Gov. McAuliffe’s argument that he basically HAD to cut a deal with the NRA, because if not he couldn’t have stopped the General Assembly from undoing it, there’s a lot more AGAINST Gov. McAuliffe’s argument, since almost certainly there weren’t enough Democratic votes to override his veto, if it had come to that. Fascinating, eh?