Via executive order, Gov. Terry McAuliffe created more gun-free zones in Virginia this week, the Richmond Times Dispatch reports.
That’s right, McAuliffe, an active and enthusiastic gun control supporter, signed an executive order that bans firearms in government buildings controlled by the executive branch, including but not limited to Department of Motor Vehicles locations and Virginia Employment Commission offices. It does not include buildings controlled by the legislature, e.g. the Capitol or General Assembly offices.
“We must take every precaution to protect our citizens and state employees from gun violence,” wrote McAuliffe in the executive order. “We cannot wait until a tragedy occurs to decide to address it. Prevention requires us to address areas of concern before they are realized.”
“Accordingly, I hereby declare that it is the policy of the Commonwealth that open carry of firearms shall be prohibited in offices occupied by executive branch agencies, unless held by law enforcement, authorized security, or military personnel authorized to carry firearms in accordance with their duties,” continued the governor.
“Within 30 days of the date of this Executive Order, the Director of the Department of General Services (DGS) shall issue guidance prohibiting carrying weapons openly in offices occupied by executive branch agencies,” concluded McAuliffe.
The ban on carrying firearms in government buildings was part of larger initiative to “keep guns out of dangerous hands.” In addition to creating more gun-free zones, McAuliffe is putting together a task force that will focus on gun crime, authorizing the attorney general to coordinate with local prosecutors to bring criminal cases against firearm law offenders, establishing a tip line for illegal gun activity, requiring tracing on every firearm used in a crime, and encouraging judges and prosecutors to seek gun forfeiture in felony and other cases.
Reactions from pro-gun Republicans were mixed. Many were supportive of the idea of ramping up prosecution for gun crimes while also voicing skepticism about the efficacy of a gun-free zone.
“As we have seen again and again, such policies leave law-abiding citizens vulnerable to acts of senseless violence rather than protecting people from such tragedies,” House Deputy Majority Leader C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) told the Richmond Times Dispatch.
“We will review this policy during the 2016 legislative session and take the appropriate action to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens,” Gilbert added.
Meanwhile, gun-control organizations are hoping that more governors take similar actions to foist gun control on their respective states.
“Most significantly, Gov. McAuliffe is showing other governors around the country they don’t have to wait on often stubborn legislatures to fill gaps in enforcement and other key areas of gun safety,” said Peter Ambler, director for American for Responsible solutions.