After two failed attempts at getting some gun control measures passed, Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe went the executive order route. He signed Number 50 last week, which will do nothing to prevent further gun violence. Why? Well, it could be due to the fact that many of the things in Number 50 are already law. The order establishes a “joint task force to prosecute gun crimes; authorize the attorney general to coordinate and bring criminal cases against firearms law offenders; establish a tip line for illegal gun activity; trace guns used in crime; encourage judges and prosecutors to seek gun forfeiture in felony and other cases; and ban the carry of firearms in state government buildings.”
First, the gun forfeiture provision deals with cases of domestic abuse. Americans convicted on such charges are already barred from owning firearms. Second, there’s a tip line to report illegal gun activity? That’s what 9-1-1 is for–and authorities should always prosecute gun crimes. Yet, the worst offense is in the preface of the executive order, where it says, “It has been estimated that nearly 40% of all guns sold in America are sold by private, unlicensed sellers either online or through gun shows. These sellers are not required by federal or state law to perform any background checks before transferring a firearm.” No. Again; this statistic has been debunked endlessly.
Existing law already covers most of the provisions in this act. While the tip line may be redundant, it could pave the way for anti-gunners to harass law-abiding gun owners in the state. As for the ban on carrying of weapons in state government buildings, I do disagree, but in the grand scheme of things, how often does one enter a state government building? Let’s just say that things could have been worse, especially since McAuliffe made it no secret that he wanted more gun control enacted here in Virginia. Moreover, if Ed Gillespie wins in 2017, he can rescind these orders, and the GOP-led House of Delegates can try and pass a law giving Virginia gun owners, who don’t have their carry permits, the ability to keep a loaded handgun in their cars for self-protection.
Then-Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli wrote a letter clarifying that position in 2012:
“…Provided the handgun is properly secured in a container or compartment within the vehicle, persons who may lawfully possess a firearm but have not been issued a concealed weapons permit may possess, in a vehicle, a handgun that is loaded and the handgun may remain within reach of a driver or passenger under such conditions.”
In 2013, Gov. McAuliffe vetoed a bill that would have made this a law, instead of an opinion from the Office of the Attorney General. Nevertheless, it still means that pro-Second Amendment Virginia voters should make it their top priority to elect candidates who share that view. And they should do so again in 2017. So, should we freak out? I'd say conservatives should take a rather measured response to this. Yes, these executive orders are annoying. They’re bad, but they could’ve been worse. It provides more reasons for pro-Second Amendment supporters to vote in next month's races for the state legislature and in 2017, when Virginians pick a new governor who will hopefully pledge to rollback these extraneous provisions.