The sound of political gears grinding into reverse in the State of Virginia is a pleasure to hear for those of us who support gun rights. Governor McAuliffe has struck a deal with Republicans in the state legislature to reverse the decision of Attorney General Herring late last year to revoke carry-license reciprocity with twenty-five states. In return, the governor gets the possibility of the state being able to take guns from those who are under a protective order for domestic violence and a requirement for state police to attend gun shows to offer voluntary background checks for private transactions.
As reported in The Washington Post, the head of Everytown for Gun Safety, John Feinblatt, said McAuliffe “should reconsider this dangerous gift to the gun lobby.” He says this after having failed to deliver Democratic control of the legislature to the governor, demonstrating a lack of political awareness. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence declares on their Facebook page a desire “to be part of this process and educated as to why the Governor thinks this is necessary and well-advised.”
The reaction of gun control groups is to be expected and are fun to read. But of greater importance are the implications for the 2016 election. Virginia over the last several presidential races has been too closely divided for either party to take the state’s thirteen electoral votes for granted. Last year’s senate races in that state underline this assessment of the partisan balance.
Given the money that Michael Bloomberg spent to flip control of the Virginia senate and give Gov. McAuliffe the opportunity to pass new gun control measures, the results are a cause for hope. They also serve as a warning to the Democratic Party that the touted support for gun control—it’s ninety percent, or so we’re told again and again—isn’t as strong as the party’s assumed. Just as Virginia’s elections have been divided, Americans as a whole split roughly 50/50 on the question of which is more important, gun control or gun rights.
It comes as no surprise that Hillary Clinton is more and more vocal in her opposition to gun rights, but her party ought to give consideration to what is needed to win both the White House and Congress. The broader question that we need to put to both major parties is what they regard the fundamental character of this country to be. We may disagree about various policy proposals, and those matters deserve vigorous discussion, but debate can only work in a free society, a society that values the rights of each one of us, and if our political parties want to be worthy of our votes, they need to take clear stands on the relationship of the citizen to the state.
The parties will only do this when voters—especially those of us who vote and who own and carry guns—send the message that when politicians push for violations of our rights, they will lose our support and thus their jobs. Parties will do what they can get away with. It’s on us to limit their potential for mischief.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.