Or is that Governor Klansman? I guess we’re still unsure if Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was wearing blackface or a white hood in his medical school yearbook, and Northam himself seems to have put his own investigation into the photo on hold (he claims he’s not either of the individuals pictured on his yearbook page) while the elections in Virginia heat up. Now, two weeks before Election Day, Northam has released a digital ad promising that if Democrats take control of the state legislature, gun control will follow soon after.
The first half of the ad touts Northam’s record over the past two years, which is odd, because Northam’s not actually up for re-election this year. Virginia governors only serve one term anyway, and all of the successes that Northam touts came about not only while he was governor, but while Republicans controlled the legislature. If things are going so well, why change?
Because of gun control, the governor says. Actually, he says “commonsense gun safety laws” like banning the most commonly sold rifle in the country, banning the most commonly owned ammunition magazines in the nation, and “universal background checks” that are unenforceable and don’t actually reduce crime (or even lead to an increase in background checks at all).
Only by electing lawmakers with the “courage to stand up to the NRA” can such laws be put on the books, says Northam before he fades from view to be replaced by a big “VOTE FOR DEMOCRATS” graphic at the close of the ad.
Given the fact that gun control groups are outspending gun groups right now, perhaps Republicans should cut an ad touting their desire to stand up to the anti-gun lobby, and accusing Democrats of being tools of Everytown and other gun control groups. They could point out the disparate impact that Northam’s proposals will have on young men of color across the state of Virginia is actually far more harmful than his wearing blackface decades ago, and they could run ads asking how many new prisons Northam is going to budget for all of the Virginians who he’ll turn into felons for possessing a 20-round magazine, but they could also highlight the GOP plans to help cities target gang violence while protecting the constitutional and civil rights of residents.
I’d love to see an ad with a Beto O’Rourke double asking Ralph Northam if he’s really serious about taking these “battlefield rifles” out of the hands of Virginians. Does he support a mandatory compensated confiscation scheme? Does he want the state to “buy back” the rifles that are currently in legal hands? Or is he actually taking the position that nobody should have these rifles except for the Virginians who currently own them, and the thousands who will flock to gun stores across the state to buy one or more before Northam’s ban takes effect?
One of the things that anti-gun politicians do very well is avoid specificity. They like to talk in grand and glorious terms about how their legislation will save lives, but they hate to talk about how it will be enforced. Governor Northam wants to impose universal background checks. Can he explain why Colorado’s violent crime has increased by more than 25% since the law went into effect? How would Virginia’s universal background check law work any better than Colorado’s? Northam and his fellow Democrats are offering up a false promise of increased safety at the expense of civil liberties, and Republicans have two weeks to make Virginians aware of the likely consequence of giving them complete control of state government.