We’re less than three weeks away from statewide elections in Virginia, and according to a new poll, gun control is shaping up to be the the top issue on the minds of voters in the state.
Gun policy has emerged as a major issue for members of both parties, and three out of four voters say it is their top concern, according to a recent Washington Post-Schar School poll.
With the GOP down to a narrow majority in the General Assembly, Democrats aim to flip one or both chambers in November’s election, and many see gun control as a winning issue.
On a recent evening in the basement of a church in Arlington, volunteers trained to canvass for gun-control candidates, including Democratic Del. Kathy Tran of the 42nd District.
They are activists with Moms Demand Action. The gun control group is part of Everytown for Gun Safety, which has committed a record $2.5 million to advancing gun control in Virginia’s elections — more than 10 times what the NRA contributed this cycle.
So gun control groups are outspending pro-gun groups 10-to-1, which is probably to be expected when the gun control groups are bankrolled by a billionaire like Michael Bloomberg. That money is being concentrated on about a dozen different campaigns across the state, for both the House of Delegates and the state Senate. As WAMU notes, Democrats don’t have to win every district targeted by Bloomberg and his gun control groups. In fact, just a couple of victories in each chamber is all that’s needed to turn Virginia into the next California, New Jersey, or Maryland.
It’s been twenty years since Virginia passed a gun control bill, but the state could pass a dozen or more if the state legislature flips to an anti-gun majority. The state already has an anti-gun governor in Ralph Northam, who’s been pushing for sweeping infringements on the right to keep and bear arms, and he’ll eagerly sign any gun control bill that gets to his desk.
Northam is proposing universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, bump stocks and silencers. He also wants to reinstate Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month law, require lost and stolen firearms be reported to police within 24 hours and allow localities to enact firearm ordinances that are stricter than state law, such as regulating firearms in municipal buildings. He thinks the punishment for allowing a child access to loaded, unsecured firearms should be enhanced from a misdemeanor to a felony and the age of the children the law applies to should be raised from 14 to 18.
Northam is also interested in extreme risk protection orders, which allow a third party — in Virginia, officials said this would be a police officer or prosecutor — to petition a judge for a warrant to seize legally owned guns if someone is determined to be an immediate threat to themselves or others.
Every one of Northam’s proposals will become law if Democrats take control of the state legislature on November 5th, and Bloomberg will take his campaign strategy for Virginia and apply it to states across the country in the 2020 elections. The talk of gun control may have quieted down in Washington, D.C. at the moment, but at the state level, gun control advocates are getting ready to make a lot of noise. Get ready, and more importantly, get involved!