Virginia AG Leans In To Gun Control Ahead Of Election

Early voting is already(!) underway in Virginia’s November elections, when voters will decide not only which party will control the commonwealth’s House of Delegates, but who will serve in the three statewide elected offices. Attorney General Mark Herring is running for a third term, and the anti-gun Democrat isn’t attempting to shift towards the center as we get closer to Election Day. In fact, as we detail on today’s Bearing Arms Cam & Co, Herring is embracing an extreme anti-gun agenda that includes support for New York’s draconian laws preventing the average citizen from bearing arms in self-defense.

Herring is one of 19 Democratic Attorneys General who’ve signed on to a brief defending New York’s laws as the Supreme Court weighs whether or not the permitting regime violates the Second Amendment rights of two individuals who’ve unsuccessfully tried to secure an unrestricted carry permit in the state. As the brief makes clear, these AGs simply don’t believe the Second Amendment protects a right to bear arms.

A fairminded and thorough assessment of the history establishes that there is “no general right to carry arms into the public square for self-defense” and that States and local governments may “regulate arms in the public square.”

Every version of the Bill of Rights that I’ve seen says that the right to keep and bear arms “shall not be infringed,” not that it “does not apply to bearing arms in self-defense in public,” but Herring has endorsed a position that turns Virginians’ right to carry into a privilege. Here in Virginia, not only do we have a “shall issue” system for issuing concealed carry licenses, (which means all those who pass a background check and complete the required training shall receive a license), but legal gun owners are free to openly carry a firearm without the need for a state-issued license.

As of 2019 there were 644,000 concealed carry licensees in Virginia; a number that’s unquestionably grown larger since the start of the pandemic and the surge in gun sales last March. Countless others are legally carrying their firearm openly on occasion, and Herring apparently would have no problem subjecting all of them to New York’s restrictive “may issue” permitting laws instead. The average Virginian, just like the average New Yorker, wouldn’t be able to acquire a unrestricted license, and would be subject to felony charges and a mandatory prison sentence if they were caught doing something that’s perfectly legal today; carrying a firearm for self-defense.

In addition to giving the thumbs up to New York’s permitting regime, Herring is also making noise about expanding the state’s “red flag” law, though his specific comments suggest he’s not exactly clear on how the current law works.

Under Democratic control, the Virginia General Assembly has passed laws strengthening gun control in the state, such as one-gun-per-month purchases and red flags going up when someone’s actions lead them to be perceived as socially dangerous. Herring, who is up for re-election in November, hinted that he may push to expand the red-flag law to cover social-media posts, which in turn could create an avenue to catch a young person before they do any harm to themselves or others.

“If someone is on social media bragging about their firearms ad something like that, and making threats, if there’s something there that we can do, we should do.”

First of all, if someone is making a threat while showing off an illegally-possessed gun on social media, there’s already a mechanism to address the situation. It’s called the criminal justice system. But as Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins tells Bearing Arms, “Herring appears to be ignorant of the fact that Virginia’s current red flag law already requires a judge or magistrate to consider ‘any relevant evidence’ including but not limited to threats. His knee jerk call for yet more Second Amendment restrictions is a predictable next step in the gun grabber’s playbook.”

The fact that Herring would rather deal with criminal activity through the use of an Extreme Risk Protection Order rather than a criminal court is also troubling because, unlike defendants in a criminal case, the subjects of a potential “red flag” gun seizure order are not entitled to a public defender if they can’t afford their own attorney. That might not matter to many of Mark Herring’s more monied supporters, but it undeniably makes it more difficult for lower-income Virginians to defend themselves in a red flag hearing.

Virginia’s violent crime rate has been heading in the wrong direction since the Democrats took complete control of the state government in 2019, and if Mark Herring’s re-elected, he’s going to keep pushing to criminalize our right to keep and bear arms instead of ensuring that violent criminals receive justice for their crimes against the commonwealth’s citizens. The Democrat may consider himself a progressive, but turning the right to bear arms into a privilege of the few instead of a right of the people is a decidedly regressive (and repressive) position to take.