It didn’t take long for pro-gun lawmakers in Virginia to respond to the governor’s new gun control push, which calls for universal background checks and a return of the one-handgun-a-month purchase limit, among other restrictions.
“The governor is a pure political animal and always has been,” said Del. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), in an interview with The Washington Post.
“This is purely a political play on his part. I don’t think he has any expectation that any of this is viable or defensible,” continued Gilbert. “He’s playing to his base on an election-year issue that he wrongly believes resonates.”
Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced his agenda on Monday, coming on the heels of the two year anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) criticized the governor’s plan via his spokesperson Matt Moran, who said, “It is very clear where the House of Delegates stands on the Second Amendment. It is disappointing that the governor, who claims to be a consensus-builder focused on jobs, is making a divisive social issue like gun control the centerpiece of his legislative agenda.”
Meanwhile, the governor’s administration defended his policy suggestions, claiming they weren’t political but simply solutions to prevent gun violence.
“Keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of criminals and others prone to violence shouldn’t be a political issue, and it won’t become one as long as Virginia leaders put the safety of their constituents ahead of extreme, special-interest politics,” Rachel Thomas, a spokeswoman for Gov. McAuliffe, the WashPo.
Since the General Assembly is controlled by the GOP the fight for tougher gun laws will be an uphill battle. Moreover, those Democrats who hail from pro-gun districts could face serious backlash if they opt to back the governor, noted one gun-rights organization.
“Gun control is an issue that’s hurt Democrats year after year,” Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America told USA Today. “And if he wants to put a hurt on some of his colleagues, well go ahead and push it.”
Time will ultimately tell whether this was merely a political ploy or an earnest attempt at rolling back the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners.