Virginia’s gubernatorial election this November could serve as a bellweather for next year’s midterms, and right now most polls in the state are showing a close race between former governor and Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe and Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin. But while Youngkin has been quick to point out McAulliffe’s embrace of mask and vaccine mandates, critical race theory, and other far-Left policies, he hasn’t said much about McAuliffe’s desire impose sweeping new restrictions, including a ban on AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles. In fact, Youngkin didn’t even return the NRA’s candidate questionnaire, which led to the group leaving him off of their list of endorsed candidates (Youngkin told me during an interview on WMAL radio that his campaign is not filling out or responding to any candidate surveys from any group, and was not trying to specifically avoid the NRA’s endorsement).
Youngkin’s campaign website is also devoid of any mention of Second Amendment issues, which is simply bizarre to me given the fact that since Democrats took control of the state legislature in 2019 we’ve seen them ram through nearly a dozen new gun control laws while violent crime (particularly shootings and homicides) have increased dramatically. Youngkin’s gone after McAuliffe for being soft on crime, but he hasn’t said much at all about McAuliffe’s desire to criminalize the right to keep and bear arms.
Now a new poll from Crooked Media and Change Research indicates that Youngkin is missing an opportunity to hit McAuliffe in an area where the Democrat is weak; gun policy. While the poll shows McAuliffe with a lead of 49-43 over Youngkin, the survey of more than 1,700 likely voters shows that respondents believe that Youngkin would do a better job on “gun policy.”
Not only is “gun policy” an area of relative strength for Youngkin according to the poll, a deep dive into the polling results reveals that protecting the right to keep and bear arms is more important to Virginia voters than imposing new gun controls. According to the poll, 8% of respondents said that “gun rights” is the most important issue for them when selecting a candidate, while just 3% said “gun control” was their top priority. In fact, “gun rights” is one of the most important issues among Virginia voters, according to this poll, coming in three points behind “getting COVID under control” and just a single point behind “voting rights.”
Despite that fact, Youngkin’s appearances on the campaign trail rarely invoke the Second Amendment and the importance of protecting the right to keep and bear arms, and when he does mention gun rights, it’s usually in the most generic of terms. This in a state where more than 200 municipalities and counties have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries since the Democratic takeover of the state legislature two years ago.
Terry McAuliffe is a weak candidate; uninspiring, a career politician who’s willing to campaign with Ralph Northam after previously calling on the current governor to resign over his blackface scandal, and a man who even fellow Democrats say reeks of corruption and influence-peddling. Glenn Youngkin should be hitting McAuliffe on all of those fronts, but he absolutely should not ignore the opportunity to drag McAuliffe over his desire to restrict the civil rights of Virginians when it comes to gun ownership.
McAuliffe says he not only wants to ban so-called assault weapons, but “get ghost guns and high-capacity magazines off the streets.” That translates to creating new criminal offenses aimed directly at legal gun owners instead of the violent criminals who are driving up the state’s homicide rate and taking innocent lives. McAuliffe says he wants to automatically restore rights for felons once they’ve served their time, but he’s not talking about all of their rights. No, he wants felons to be able to vote, but doesn’t want them to own a gun, even if they were convicted or plead guilty to a non-violent felony offense. Terry McAuliffe doesn’t see the Second Amendment as a second-class right. He doesn’t see it as a right at all, just a privilege to be doled out and supervised by the state.
Glenn Youngkin should be taking the fight to McAuliffe when it comes to gun policy. Instead, the Republican seems a little gun-shy, and that could be a key factor between victory and defeat come November.