Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam spent the weekend defending his newly signed gun control laws and attacking President Donald Trump for not doing enough about providing tests for the coronavirus after the president ripped into Northam’s anti-gun efforts in tweets and press briefings on Friday.
Northam told CNN’s Jake Tapper that “now is not a time for divisiveness,” but the truth is that Virginia certainly hasn’t joined together in support of Northam’s new gun control laws. As a matter of fact, the governor and Virginia Democrats were quite happy being divisive during the legislative session, ramming through seven gun control measures with their new legislative majority over the objections of the vast majority of the state’s 95 counties as well as dozens of cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth.
Now, though, Northam says he wants to talk about a lack of coronavirus tests, not his lack of support for the right to keep and bear arms.
“Our President obviously has been unable to deliver on tests. Now he has chosen to focus on protests. And this is not the time for protests, this is not the time for divisiveness,” Northam said. “This is time for leadership, that we’ll stand up and provide empathy. That we’ll understand what’s going on in this country of ours with this pandemic. It’s the time for truth and it’s the time to bring people together.”
Northam’s faced a great deal of criticism in Virginia for the length of his stay-at-home order, which right now isn’t scheduled to end until June 10th. He’s also facing lawsuits over his closure of indoor gun ranges in the state, which are considered “indoor amusements” in his emergency order. The Virginia Citizens Defense League and a Roanoke-based range are suing the governor, arguing that Northam doesn’t have the authority to close ranges completely and that the courts should allow ranges to re-open under the same social distancing measures for other essential businesses.
I’m sure that Northam would love to dictate what people talk about, just as he’s trying to dictate how Virginians exercise their Second Amendment rights, but that’s not how things work in this country, even in a state of emergency. Northam was happy to blast out press releases when he signed five gun control bills into law earlier this month, but apparently he’s only interested in hearing praise for his actions, not criticism.
If Ralph Northam wants to come together, perhaps he shouldn’t have spent months helping to demonize gun owners in the state over their well-founded objections to his gun control agenda. He shouldn’t be surprised that his divisive actions are continuing to breed controversy and conflict. His deflection may work on CNN, but it won’t work with the hundreds of thousands of Virginians who’ve spoken out against gun control laws and pushed their own counties and cities to declare themselves Second Amendment Sanctuaries ready to oppose Northam’s new gun laws in court and on the ground.