Welcome to the Crazy Times: Gun Control Edition

Rep. Don McEachin

by James A. Bacon

Virginia voters support gun control measures such as requiring background checks on all gun sales (86% to 13% margins), passing a “red flag” law (72% to 23%), and banning assault-style weapons (54% to 44%), according to a poll released today by the Wason Center for Public Policy.  With that level of public support, we can take it for granted that the Democratic-controlled General Assembly will pass a slew of gun-control legislation in the 2022 General Assembly session.

If there’s one thing that gets Virginia conservatives riled up, it’s gun control. In one of the most impassioned grass roots movements Virginia has seen in recent years, rural locality after rural locality has declared itself a Second Amendment “sanctuary,” passing vague declarations in favor of gun-owner rights. (I have seen no comparable calls for Wage Sanctuaries in response to a proposed $15 minimum wage that would eviscerate the economies of the very same localities.)

And if there’s one thing that gets Virginia liberals and progressives riled up, it’s popular expressions of conservative sentiment. Last week Governor Ralph Northam said “there are going to be some consequences” if local law enforcement fails to enforce laws enacted by the General Assembly. Then, blowing gale-force winds on already troubled waters, Donald McEachin, D-Richmond, suggested a cut-off of state funds to counties that don’t comply with new measures. Then, unbelievably, he said this:

Ultimately, I’m not the governor, but the governor may have to nationalize the National Guard to enforce the law. That’s his call, because I don’t know how serious those counties are and how severe the violations of law will be. But that’s obviously an option he has.

Mobilize the National Guard? Are you kidding me?

Let me rephrase that question: Are you insane?

I count myself among the Virginians who would support limited tightening of gun control laws. I would like to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, criminals, domestic abusers and severely mentally ill people — as long as the measures don’t unreasonably restrict the rights of mentally stable, law-abiding gun owners. (Yeah, I know, the issues get very prickly when you try to deprive someone of his/her rights before they have committed a crime.)  I also agree that a reasonable way to limit such peoples’ access to guns is to conduct background checks. Like many Virginians, I’m on the fence when it comes to assault weapons.

But if there’s one way to stampede me in the direction of opposition to gun control, it’s to invoke the mobilization of the National Guard to enforce the law.

You see, a big argument of gun-rights advocates is that an armed citizenry is a check on the power of an all-powerful state. In normal times, that sounds like crazy talk. In what universe would citizens need to guns to resist the coercive power of the state?

In a universe in which liberal/progressives like Don McEachin invoke scenarios of mobilizing the National Guard to enforce the law. Which happens to be the same universe in which a recent Office of the Inspector General report laid bare numerous FBI transgressions in seeking FISA warrants on Carter Page as part of a larger Russian-collusion investigation into the Trump campaign. “In our view,” concluded the OIG, “this was a failure of not only the operational team, but also of the managers and supervisors, including senior officials, in the chain of command.”

After the indisputable findings of the OIG report and the fizzling of the Mueller investigation (and much else), conservatives are pretty touchy these days about the overweening power of the state. As a liberal member of Congress residing in Washington, D.C., McEachin lives in a different fact/news/values universe from conservatives residing in, say, Campbell County or Chesapeake. Peruse the press releases issued by his office, and you’ll a statement decrying the Nov. 18 shooting in Fresno but not one word of concern about the FBI’s FISA court abuses. He is clueless how threatening his National Guard ruminations will be perceived in Red State America.

Fortunately, the National Guard has responded with a Twitter post calculated to soothe raw nerves.

We have received multiple questions regarding proposed legislation for the 2020 General Assembly session and the authority of the Governor of Virginia to employ the Virginia National Guard in a law enforcement role.

We understand and respect the passion people feel for the U.S. Constitution and 2nd Amendment rights. We will not speculate about the possible use of the Virginia National Guard.

Hopefully, that will be the end of it. Hopefully, the General Assembly will enact reasonable gun control legislation in 2020. Hopefully, gun rights advocates will respect the new laws, even if they don’t like them. And, if they find ways to evade the laws short of outright defiance, hopefully, McEachin will refrain from inflaming the situation and Governor Northam will find ways to deal with the situation short of sending in the National Guard.

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27 responses to “Welcome to the Crazy Times: Gun Control Edition”

  1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Don McEachin is a hypocritical dirt bag. He supports picking and choosing what laws should be followed with respect to illegal immigrants and sanctuary cities but denies others the right to establish sanctuary counties for firearms.

    SB705 , Feb 9, 2016, McEachin voted no on the bill provides a sanctuary city–any locality that adopts any policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws–shall be responsible for the full amount of any personal injury or property damage caused by an illegal alien within such locality.

    We cannot have a nation or a state where some people get to chose what laws can be enforced but others can’t. If not, let’s bring on the next revolution. A nation or state that rejects some laws necessarily must allow others to reject other laws. It’s chaos.

  2. warrenhollowbooks Avatar

    Considering how dis-proportionally responsible Rep. McEachin’s district is for the state’ s murder rate I find fascinating his support for VIGOROUS law enforcement EVERYWHERE ELSE in the Commonwealth . . .

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      Yes, where the National Guard chooses to start its sweep will be an interesting question.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: “enforcing the law”

    there are numerous laws in the Code of Virginia that are not enforced right now, some of the Jim Crow era laws.

    And at the Federal level, they choose to not enforce E-Verify…. which in turn brings illegals …

    If those who so strongly advocate enforcement of the law – were consistent – maybe I’d give them more credit, eh?

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    The entire premise of the 2nd amendment with respect to “weapons parity” with the GOvt – so they could successfully rebel against a despotic govt is ludicrous on it’s face.

    We ALREADY restrict weapons – all the ones more deadly than what we currently have the “right” to including things like full automatic, bazookas, stinger missiles. javelins (in the news about Ukraine), etc, etc.

    There is no “parity” it’s a joke.

    In terms of self-defense – yes , 100% even though people turn guns on each other all the time AND on themselves – suicide by gun kills more than 20,000 each year.

    Other countries have mass killers also but there the damage they do with knives and similar weaponry is minuscule compared to what our idiots do with sem-auto “assault weapons”. Can anyone imagine what the carnage would be if those same killers could get their hands on a full auto weapon?

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      It was comments on a previous post of mine, from Second Amendment advocates, that led me to some reading about the justifications for the Second Amendment at the time it was adopted. The intention was indeed to maintain an armed populace as a check on the government, and at the time the idea really was to have only militia and not a standing army.

  5. warrenhollowbooks Avatar

    . . . and the irony seems to be lost on everyone on the Commonwealth’s African-American legislators adopting the view that, above all, the Commonwealth’s laws must be vigorously enforced even if one believes them unconstitutional, unjust, or if you believe they deprive people of their rights.

  6. Mr. Bacon — ‘ASSAULT WEAPONS’ are currently banned. An ‘assault weapon’ is a rifle/carbine that can either fire semi-automatic [one trigger pull equals one round fired] or full automatic [rounds are fired when you pull and hold the trigger until all the rounds from the magazine/belt are fired].

    Know of what you write. Semi-automatic firearms are the most common type around — Remington 1100 Shotguns, Colt 1911s, AR-15s. The Dems want to ban semi-autos because they are ‘mean looking’.

    Some say that semi-automatic firearms with detachable magazines are ‘weapons of war’ [they are not; not one country arms its soldiers with semi-automatic rifles any more] — that they are designed to kill many people really fast! REALLY?
    Then WHY do we allow our police officers to carry such?

    Regarding so called ‘Red Flag’ laws — they already exist; only under current law the state has to PROVE a a person is a threat. Under the new ‘red flag’ laws, citizens have to prove they are INNOCENT… not the basis of our legal system.

    1. djrippert Avatar

      I agree. Listening to progressives talk about “assault weapons” is either laughable or disheartening. There are attributes of firearms that make those firearms more or less lethal. A spectrum of lethality if you will. Progressives are all too willing to spout off about assault rifles without being able to describe the differences between what they call assault rifles and non-assault rifles. By and large progressives don’t seem to like civilian firearms that are made to look like military firearms despite the fact that the civilian version is a significantly different weapon. If progressives want to ban what they call “assault rifles” then should be specific about what constitutes such a weapon.

      1. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
        Jane Twitmyer

        Yes, I just keep having the need to ‘spout off’ because of the generalizations I keep hearing …. ‘progressives, this and progressive that!

        Re ‘assault weapons’ … as I said in another post … “How these firearms are defined and regulated varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.” We object because of their lethal ability to kill so many in such a short time frame. Larry has detailed some examples in his posts.

        Thing is … you can’t tell any of us that those rifles and magazines are necessary for personal protection. A buy back and a reban of future sales would be good for everyone.

        1. “Thing is … you can’t tell any of us that those rifles and magazines are necessary for personal protection.” — then why does every law enforcement officer carry them, if not for protection?

          Why should a cop be able to protect themselves and others, while we citizens are not allowed?

          1. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
            Jane Twitmyer

            The only reason I can think of is that they might have to deal with someone who also has one of those monsters!

  7. LarrytheG Avatar

    Any kind of law where you have to prove a person IS a “threat” is problematic but laws do exist where someone can be judged to not
    be competent to manage their own affairs whether they are a threat or not.

    I don’t think we can keep weapons out of the hands of people who would use them to hurt others – that’s not possible even in other countries with more restrictive laws – but what we CAN do is limit the scope of the weapon so that it cannot have the potential to kill dozens or hundreds. We already restrict who can have an automatic weapon and those restrictions have been effective in keeping them out of the hands of mass killers to date. But we still allow 100-round magazines that can be swapped out in seconds. Someone with two assault guns, each with 100 round magazines and spares – can walk into a place with a couple hundred people and kill many, The idea that a “good guy with a gun” or a teacher with a handgun could stop such a person is just how ludicrous the “logic” that is being promoted …

    Do we want all of us … Walmarts, Churches, public places to have “good guys” with 100-round assault rifles slung over their shoulders to “protect” ?

    ‘This is where we are headed if we don’t do some common-sense stuff.

  8. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
    Jane Twitmyer

    What a crazy quilt of responses to an idea that on its face sounded extreme and was pure speculation. YIKES! The Right always accuses the Left of hyperbole. Guess we are watching ‘Trumpian’ projection from both sides.

    The Governor is evidently expecting some restrictions on gun ownership from the newly Democratic controlled GA. The rural Right Wing has responded with Sanctuary claims, saying they will not obey the laws the GA enacts. Really? Promoting lawlessness?

    First, Sanctuary Cities was not only a resistance movement . It claimed that the Federal law was going to cause enforcement expenditures, taking away from regular local law enforcement. The difference is thin, but the claim was framed as a money issue, not only as resistance to a federal law they didn’t like.

    So, here are my questions … Is Virginia, and the South, really that afraid of change? So afraid of diversity and of tolerance? Afraid of ‘the other’? Are the gun sanctuary advocates the same people who haven’t taken down their confederate flags 150 years later? Do they understand so little about the future our Founders were hoping to structure, a place where people could disagree and still respect ‘the other’? A place where debate was inevitable, but allowed, and where solutions could be found by working within the uniquely divided power structure the Founders set up.

    Stomping feet and leaving the discussion is just plain childish. So is name calling, and so is threatening to call out the National Guard for who knows what … although that did happen 50+ years ago. No one wants to ban weapons based on their ‘mean’ looks. Outlawing those rapid-fire guns doesn’t mean a house to house search. We just don’t think ANYONE should have the ability to kill so many so fast.

    I just heard on the news that someone has said … things would be better if women ran the world… 🙂

  9. When was the last time a 100-rd drum magazine was used in a crime?
    FYI — IF you’ve ever used one ….you would know they are notorious for jamming.

    Remember, more people were killed by fists and feet than rifles according to the 2018 FBI Crime Stats.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      “It took a shooter all of 32 seconds to spray 41 rounds outside a popular bar in Dayton, Ohio, this month, an attack that killed nine people and injured 27. A lightning-fast response from nearby officers prevented a far higher toll: When police shot him dead, the killer still had dozens of bullets to go in his double-drum, 100-round magazine.

      The use of such high-capacity magazines was banned in Ohio up until 2015, when a little-noticed change in state law legalized the devices, part of an overall rollback in gun-control measures that has been mirrored in states nationwide.”

      I’m NOT in favor of restricting hand guns nor long rifles but I AM in favor of banning weapons that are capable of killing large numbers of people… common sense stuff.

      We no more want would-be killers to have access to 100-round magazines than we do machine guns – even if they have a reputation to jam… that’s an unreasonable excuse to not ban in my view.

      If I were Northam and the Dems – I would find out from 80-some percent that want some restrictions – what restrictions they would support – so support for the change remains in the 70-80% range.

      I understand – and agree with the core of the 2nd amendment for people to have protection but I’m opposed to the idea of letting anyone have an automatic weapon or any other weapon of equivalent killing power – weapons made to kill large numbers of people.

      1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

        Automatic weapons built after 1986 are banned by federal law. Automatic weapons built before 1986 can be owned under heavy regulation. Heller confirmed that the right to bear arms is personal. Miller upheld federal authority to regulate or even ban ownership of weapons that are not for the efficiency or preservation of a well-regulated militia unit of the present day. Those weapons used by the current militia (National Guard) are protected by the Second Amendment, based on any fair reading of Miller.

        I have read (but do not know) that the standard size magazine used by the United States military holds 30 rounds. Miller suggests to me that a 30-round clip would be protected but larger ones would not.

        1. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
          Jane Twitmyer

          I believe the assault weapon ban expired and failed when put up for renewal in 2013 …

          Here is WIKI … “The Federal Assault Weapons Ban enacted in 1994 expired in 2004. Attempts to renew this ban have failed, as have attempts to pass a new ban, such as the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 (AWB 2013). Seven U.S. states have assault weapons bans: three were enacted before the 1994 federal ban and four more passed before the federal ban expired. The majority of states, forty-three, have no assault weapons ban, although two, Minnesota and Virginia, have training and background check requirements for purchasers of assault weapons that are more stringent than those for ordinary firearms.

          WIKI also says … “How these firearms are defined and regulated varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.”

  10. warrenhollowbooks Avatar

    A simple question, one not being addressed, in say the last five years, how many people have been killed in Virginia with long guns?

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      I don’t have a “problem” with people being killed by guns any more than I do with autos, alcohol or opioids, are foolhardy behaviors.

      but I do have a problem with -say someone owning a machine gun or weapons of that equivalence because they are made for killing not for protection. The idea that at some point, we might need to all take up “arms” to defend ourselves against a despotic govt run amok is wrongheaded – not that it’s impossible that it might happen, it could – but in order for citizens to have some level of parity with military weapons – we’d end up like Iraq or Somolia and other 3rd world countries… with so-called “militia” roaming the streets and the “militia” are not one group representing citizens – they’re more like gangs or crime bosses… an even worse tyranny.

  11. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
    Jane Twitmyer

    So it looks like the answer to my question was in the Mercury this AM … and it’s the Gerrymander and now in 2021 Dems will do the district drawing.

    “Virginia was ranked No. 1 in a September report by the University of Southern California Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy, which ranked the “worst U.S. state legislative partisan gerrymanders.”

    “In 2017, Republicans won 51 percent of seats in the Virginia House of Delegates with only 45.2 percent of the vote, according to CAP. … That outcome had a “visible effect on gun violence legislation in the state,” according to the report’s authors, who noted that multiple gun violence prevention bills were introduced in January 2019 and voted down by the GOP majority.”

    1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

      And the Virginia Senate was gerrymandered the Democrats in 2011. But that doesn’t count. Nor did gerrymandering by both houses after the 1990 election. For example, Democrats, who controlled both houses, put Bob Andrews and Vince Callahan into the same district in Fairfax County. But gerrymandering is wrong only when done by Republicans. Just ask the Washington Post.

      1. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
        Jane Twitmyer

        Oh for Gods sakes! … Gerrymandering has been done by both sides and it is always bad. Have you seen the districts that have nothing to do with neighborhoods and community of interest? How about the one that runs down 81?

        This is an answer to the fact that party politics controls what happens in the legislature for reasons other than what the citizens of the state actually want. Look at those gun law polls.

        I don’t know anything about old VA politics and your example, but don’t throw stones at Dems for doing what Reps have done most recently. Just cause the other guy does it too doesn’t make it right. Isn’t that what you told your kids when they were teenagers?

        1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

          Toss 1991 history away. That’s OK. But you are complaining about gerrymanderinng in 2011 in the House of Delegates that was controlled by the GOP but then arguing stones should not be thrown at the Democrats who gerrymandered the Senate in 2011. The Dems gerrymandered one house of the GA at the very same time the Democrats gerrymandered the Senate. Yet you write “don’t throw stones at Dems for doing what Reps have done most recently.” That is not a correct statement. The GOP did not gerrymander later than the Democrats did.

          Take the position that there should be a nonpartisan commission to draw up maps that neither harm nor help either party for approval by the GA. I’ll jump on your bandwagon.

  12. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
    Jane Twitmyer

    Sure enough … jump on board. I said I did not know VA political history and that both parties have gerrymandered. I believe the Reps pulled ahead as they were the first to use digital info and create districts by manipulating voting info digitally awhile back from an office in Richmond.

    I would be happy to find a better way.
    How an it be designed to be non-partisan? Is that even possible?

  13. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    I think you need to give both parties a “veto” over a nonpartisan commission/committee redistricting plan. That would force true nonpartisanship instead of situations where more incumbents of the same party are put into the same district than incumbents of the other party. If gerrymandering is bad, it’s worse to have gerrymandering under the guise of nonpartisanship.

    1. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
      Jane Twitmyer

      Interesting idea.
      In Ct, Local Commissions has membership requirements from both parties. That helped. I guess a 2/3rds vote requirement might help too.
      How about some mapping rules? Districts designed that have things in common, like shopping, Main streets, School districts etc? Don’t know enough to see how that could be defined,
      Certainly an investigation to see if any of these rules might work would be worth it …

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