VA Governor McAuliffe (D) to push for package of new gun restrictions

By Jenna Portnoy
The Washington Post
© December 14, 2014


Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday will call for a package of gun restrictions, including a renewal of the state’s one-a-month limit on handgun purchases and a requirement that private vendors at gun shows perform background checks.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks during the opening event for the new I-95 Express Lanes on Wednesday. (Molly Riley/AP)

McAuliffe will also propose keeping guns away from people convicted of crimes related to domestic violence and revoking concealed-handgun permits for parents who are behind on child-support payments.

McAuliffe, a Democrat, will unveil his plan during a speech in Arlington the day after the two-year anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., according to a news release.

It will be hard for him to persuade the Republican-controlled General Assembly to give up any ground on Second Amendment issues, especially as some fend off challenges from the right. But the governor is betting that the mass shootings at Sandy Hook and at Virginia Tech University in 2007 make it politically toxic for Republicans in more moderate districts to oppose the measures.

“Our Commonwealth and our nation have seen too many tragedies as a result of dangerous weapons getting into the hands of the wrong people,” McAuliffe said in the release. “These common-sense proposals will keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”

But gun rights advocates argue that restricting ownership would not have stopped the Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech shootings or others for which mentally ill people were responsible.

McAuliffe in May signed a bill sponsored by state Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, allowing gun dealers to use a state police database to see whether a gun has been used in a felony before they make a purchase. The law takes effect Jan. 1.

A limit on purchases to one gun per month became law in 1993 clomid under Democratic Gov. Doug Wilder, but it was repealed during the tenure of Republican Bob McDonnell nearly two decades later.

The news release from McAuliffe, which says the governor is a “gun owner and supporter of the Second Amendment,” praises the limit as a way to “prevent dangerous people from stockpiling and trafficking dangerous weapons.”

After Bath County Democratic Sen. Creigh Deeds’ son stabbed his father and fatally shot himself last year, lawmakers passed bills, which the governor signed, aimed at improving access to mental health services.

Citing American Journal of Public Health research that the administration says shows that women are much more likely to be killed by domestic violence when a gun is present, McAuliffe would ban anyone subject to a protection-from-abuse order from having a gun.

The ban would also apply to anyone convicted of certain misdemeanors, such as stalking, sexual battery, assault and battery against a family member and brandishing a firearm, as well as anyone with two or more assault and battery convictions.

McAuliffe would also revoke concealed-handgun permits for parents who are delinquent on child support payments. There are about 9,000 such people, and they owe more than $15 million, the governor’s office said.

Federally licensed firearm dealers must conduct background checks before selling a gun, but private vendors face no such requirement, giving criminals what McAuliffe calls “an easy avenue” to buy guns at gun shows, where some vendors are private.

McAuliffe wants all vendors at the shows to be required to conduct background checks. However, in a separate provision, he would give state police the authority to process voluntary background check requests when submitted to them by private vendors. In an address Wednesday, he will set aside $100,000 to pay for state police to attend the shows. He would also prohibit gun shows from advertising the private vendors’ exclusion from the background checks.