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July 11, 2019

Governor, What’s Your Point If Not Saving Lives?


By Larry Keane

Editor’s Note: This column appeared on The Federalist July 9, 2019 and is reprinted here with permission

Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam admitted his much-ballyhooed call for a special legislative session isn’t about contributing to public safety. For him, it’s about scoring cheap political points, attempting to emerge from his own scandals and pushing an extreme gun control agenda Virginians have rejected time and again including this legislative session in Richmond.

Governor Northam confessed to 762 high school seniors visiting Radford University that none of his gun control proposals would have prevented the tragic murders in Virginia Beach. Instead, he peddled half-truths, tired rhetoric and misallocated blame upon the millions of law-abiding Virginians.

Governor Northam pitched his gun control agenda to a mock legislative assembly of high schoolers. Interestingly, they showed more intellectual curiosity and interest in real solutions that reflect Virginia’s values over embracing the far-left’s agenda of disarming Americans. The inquisitive students asked the governor how any of the governor’s ideas would have stopped the murderer.

His answer was less-than-placating. For him, it’s about the “bigger picture.”

Pushing Failed Agenda

Governor Northam’s vision is to criminalize the private transfer of firearms from one individual to another, limit gun sales to once per month, banning modern sporting rifles, suppressors and standard capacity magazines, subjecting victims of firearms theft to criminal charges if they fail to report the crime against them and expanding “gun-free zones” like Virginia Beach’s city public works building where the shooting took place when the employee ignored the no-gun policy and murdered his co-workers.

Governor Northam touts his gun control agenda with language that sounds meaningful but in reality it will do nothing to contribute to public safety. The governor is demanding universal background checks but refuses to acknowledge that the Virginia Beach murderer twice passed federally-required criminal background checks for the two handguns he purchased. The governor also ignores that the murderer didn’t commit his criminal acts with an AR-15, or modern sporting rifle. Still, he demands the General Assembly give him authority to ban the most-popular selling rifle in America today in the Old Dominion.

Factual Ignorance

Governor Northam attempted to lecture these students who had the audacity to question his agenda, rhetorically asking why the murderer chose to use a suppressor. He didn’t allow that one of the handguns didn’t have a suppressor, that police clearly heard the gunfire or that suppressors don’t “silence” a firearm. It just reduces the report to a level equal to that of a jackhammer so it doesn’t cause permanent and instant hearing loss.

He also refused to recognize that from 1995-2005, less than 0.1% of homicides prosecuted in federal court, an infinitesimally low 0.00006% of felonies in California and a mere 0.1% of armed robberies involved a suppressor. The ATF noted in an unpublished 2017 White Paper that an average of just 44 cases involving suppressors per year over a 10-year period were recommended for prosecution. In fact, many of the European countries which Governor Northam looks to as an example of strict gun laws require suppressor use and they are available over the counter in hardware stores.

Coordinated Attacks

Governor Northam isn’t alone in forcing draconian gun control laws on Virginians. He’s been joined by billionaire and liberal cause-du-jour Tom Steyer, who is most notable for pouring millions of dollars to see President Trump impeached. Now, he’s pouring millions into Virginia to change the General Assembly to enact this grab at Second Amendment rights.

Governor Northam isn’t out of options. If he truly cares about making a difference and keeping firearms out of the hands of those who should never posses them, he can look to the example of Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Instead of infringing upon law-abiding gun owners’ rights, Governor Abbott invested a $1 million grant to the firearms-industry’s Project Childsafe® to provide free gun safety kits with gun locks to prevent the unauthorized access and misuse of firearms.

This is just one of the real solutions for safer communities championed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, including ensuring all disqualifying mental health records are submitted to the FBI’s NICS database, as well as working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to bring criminals responsible for the robberies and burglaries of firearms retailers to justice through matching reward offers, and partnering with the largest suicide prevention group and the Department of Veterans Affairs to reduce and eliminate suicide by firearms.

These are proposals that save lives. Governor Northam’s special session is only about attempting to save his bankrupt reputation.

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