Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe wants to crack down on gun owners by declaring “gun violence” a “public health crisis.”
McAuliffe is running neck and neck with his Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, and the results of this race could have far-reaching effects on the gun-owning community in the state.
A loss would undoubtedly result in an “assault weapon” ban, which failed to garner enough support last year to pass the Democrat-controlled legislature. McAuliffe also plans to ban standard capacity magazines, homemade firearms, and openly carried firearms.
Most concerning, however, is his apparent desire to take a page from the COVID-19 handbook and use a “public health crisis” to ram down gun control policies without the approval of the legislature.
McAuliffe wants to use this alleged public health emergency to create a “Virginia Office of Gun Violence Prevention” to “collect and synthesize research, develop a statewide framework for preventing gun violence, and coordinate with other state and local agencies to save lives.”
Background check laws would also be “strengthened” under McAuliffe’s plan. The Virginia General Assembly passed a universal background check law last year, but McAuliffe wants to go even further.
“Now that Virginia has required background checks on all gun sales, we must expand the law to cover transfers of ownership. It’s simple. If you want to give a gun to a friend, the person receiving it should have to undergo a background check,” McAuliffe writes. He also plans to “further explore the possibility” of waiting periods and a permit-to-purchase requirement.
In addition, the would-be governor wants to close the “hate crime loophole” by prohibiting those who commit these crimes from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm. McAuliffe claims that 185 hate crimes were reported in 2019 but does not say how many of those reports were verified, prosecuted, or convicted.
Larry Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation sounded the alarm about McAuliffe’s “public health” scheme for Virginia gun policy.
“McAuliffe’s gun control plan doesn’t sound like much of a plan. It is an excuse to infringe on Virginians’ constitutionally protected gun rights of those who obey the law and ignores failing policies that defunded police and let criminals run rampant with no accountability,” Keane says.
The upcoming election will be the greatest test so far of the Second Amendment sanctuary movement that swept the state after the Democrats gained complete control of the Assembly in 2019. As GunsAmerica reported at the time, gun owners descended on their town and county council meetings and turned 91 of 95 counties into Second Amendment sanctuaries.
According to the latest polling, McAuliffe holds a slim 3.4-point lead over Youngkin, well within the margin of error for most polls.
If Virginia gun owners show up to the polls in force, they could sway this election in Youngkin’s favor.
Voting opens on Nov. 2, 2021.