There are a lot of bad actors involved in Virginia politics, but fortunately there are also a few great ones. One of those is Lori Haas, the Virginia state director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, whose daughter Emily was shot twice, but fortunately survived, the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. By all accounts, Lori Haas is also one of the most respected people in Virginia when it comes to the issue of gun violence prevention. That respect is well deserved, as Lori is hard working, knowledgeable, level headed, and reasonable. Which is why when Lori talks, people should – and do! – listen to what Lori has to say.
That brings me to the point of this column, which is to highlight Lori’s op-ed in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch (“What’s missing from the governor’s gun deal?“). I strongly recommend that you read the entire op-ed, but here are a few key points that jumped out at me.
- The decision by Attorney General Mark Herring on “concealed carry reciprocity” with other states, far from being some kind of rogue action by an out-of-control, anti-gun AG, was actually (as Lori Haas points out) was actually a move “to enforce existing law and rescind reciprocity agreements with states that were putting armed individuals with a history of violence on our streets.” That move came after many years in which previous Virginia AGs “ignored the law and signed reciprocity agreements with 30 states whose standards failed to meet these requirements in Virginia code.” Which is outrageous, when you think about it, and should be troubling to anyone who cares about the rule of law.
- Gov. McAuliffe’s gun deal with the NRA, which followed AG Herring’s long-overdue enforcement of Virginia law: “not only repeal[ed] Herring’s decision but also allow[ed] blanket reciprocity with all 49 others states, many of which fall well short of the requirements in Virginia code.” It even allowed “Virginia residents who are unable to obtain a concealed handgun permit in the commonwealth to go out of state to get a permit and carry on our streets!”
- As for the part of the deal with the NRA dealing with protective orders, Haas notes that “making firearm possession prohibitory for those under a permanent protective order for family abuse…is laudable but does nothing to address the nine other types of protective orders in Virginia,” nor is any process “defined for abusers to safely dispose of firearms, and no direction is given to law enforcement to seize weapons when abusers refuse to relinquish them.”
- With regard to voluntary background checks at gun shows, Haas says this “is hardly worth mentioning,” and that instead Gov. McAuliffe “should have fought for mandatory universal background checks on private sales, a wildly popular policy supported by 88 percent of Virginians, according to a recent poll from Christopher Newport University.”
- Finally, as for the ridiculous talking point by McAuliffe’s team that this must be a good deal because “both sides are unhappy” (or words to that effect), Haas points out that the “glee the radical NRA and Virginia Citizens Defense League have expressed about this deal, as opposed to the anger and disappointment of gun violence prevention advocates, is a dead giveaway that McAuliffe did not get the best public safety package he could have.”
Now, I’m well aware that Gov. McAuliffe and his team have been putting tremendous pressure on Democrats to fall in line over this deal with the NRA, at least with regard to the protective orders piece. And to be clear, I have no serious problem with McAuliffe signing the bills dealing with protective orders and even the toothless voluntary background checks piece. As for the reciprocity piece, though, McAuliffe absolutely should veto that legislation and support his Attorney General’s enforcement of Virginia law 100%. If nothing else, it will be great to watch both the NRA’s “glee” and the “anger and disappointment of gun violence prevention advocates” disappear.