McAuliffe Compromise Poses Real Dangers

ACTION: Please urge your state delegate and senator to OPPOSE HB 1386 and SB 715 -- legislation to establish “voluntary” background checks.  And urge them to oppose HB 1391 and SB 49 -- legislation that will unnecessarily punish men AND WOMEN with felonies, at its most extreme, for simply possessing a firearm for self-defense when they were unaware of a protective order against them.


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Last December, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced his intention to unilaterally revoke Virginia’s concealed carry reciprocity agreements with most other states, on the grounds that the other states did not have sufficiently stringent controls on who could obtain a permit.

In response, there was significant uproar among Virginian gun owners, and many Republicans in the General Assembly, who vowed to undo the damage that Herring had caused -- possibly through the budget process which is moving forward this month. 

Recently, it was reported that Virginia Republican legislators have reached a “deal” with Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe to suspend Herring’s unlawful revocation of concealed carry reciprocity with 25 states.  

The “deal” would supposedly reinstate reciprocity -- and even extend it to more states -- but establish “voluntary” gun show private background checks and impose additional restrictions on persons with restraining orders.

The Bloomberg anti-gun crowd is supposedly livid about the deal, and many of our Second Amendment friends are declaring victory.

To be sure, part of this deal would be great news for gun owners.  Every gun owner knows that concealed carry is a big deal.  It’s the “bear” part of the Second Amendment protection.  Preserving the right to carry is extremely important.

But as Gun Owners of America has looked at this deal, we conclude that there are several things that should concern Virginia gun owners.  To be sure, many in the McAuliffe administration think they’ve gotten a good deal:

“McAuliffe’s camp says that the gun-safety crowd got a good deal, and that the progress on background checks and domestic abusers is more critical than concessions on reciprocity.” -- The Washington Post, February 1, 2016

So let us first say this:  There are disagreements in any family.  And, within our “Second Amendment family,” it’s possible to disagree, without impugning either the judgment or the motives of our friends and allies.  

Having said that, we would like to respectfully raise some concerns.  

Because even if this deal goes forward to fruition, Virginia’s gun owners -- and the legislators who represent them -- should have their eyes open and know exactly what they are really getting:  the Good … the Bad … and the Ugly.

You can read GOA’s analysis of this compromise here.  But in brief, our concerns with the compromise (which is still very fluid) involve the following items:

* By establishing “voluntary” background checks -- such as in HB 1386 and SB 715 -- the infrastructure will be created for “mandatory” background checks in the future.

* Expanding background checks to cover private sales -- with a police officer present -- multiplies the possibility that innocent gun owners will be arrested when their NICS check erroneously reports them as “denied.”

* Expanding background checks to cover all gun sales puts the final puzzle piece in place to implement a Universal Registration System.

* Finally, in regard to protective orders, two of the compromise bills (HB 1391 and SB 49) can result in the incarceration of non-violent individuals who had no idea they even had a protective order against them.

Rescinding the illegal actions by Attorney General Herring is an important goal for Virginia gun owners.  

But one wonders what kind of precedent this compromise will set -- where anti-gunners illegally infringe on the rights of gun owners, and then demand concessions in order to “graciously” restore those rights.  

This would be like the person who gets burglarized and is ecstatic with the burglar when he gets most (or maybe all) of his property back, because he didn’t have to pay the burglar as much as he thought he would. 

Or to put it yet another way, if you pay ransom for hostages, even if you think you cut a pretty good bargain, you're going to guarantee that you get more hostage-taking.

Rather than pursuing a “compromise,” the Republicans who control the legislature in Richmond could use the appropriations process to defund Herring’s action.  

And that could be done without giving away any ground to the anti-gun left in Richmond.

Unfortunately, there will be a cost for gun owners that results from any compromise made with Governor McAuliffe.  

We must remember that gun grabbers are really good at holding out a carrot and then playing with the details.  Even now, we already know what some of those negative details are.

ACTION: Please urge your state delegate and senator to OPPOSE HB 1386 and SB 715 -- legislation to establish “voluntary” background checks.  And urge them to oppose HB 1391 and SB 49 -- legislation that will unnecessarily punish men AND WOMEN with felonies, at its most extreme, for simply possessing a firearm for self-defense when they were unaware of a protective order against them.