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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Democrat Lt. Governor Candidates Try to Out Gun Control Each Other

The New Republic reported yesterday that the two Democratic candidates for Lt. Governor in Virginia, State Senator Ralph Northam and former Kaine Secretary of Technology and Obama administration official Aneesh Chopra, are trying to out gun control each other.
Both Northam and Chopra say they support universal background checks, along with bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. But such is the perceived demand for gun control among Virginia Democrats that they are now battling on territory even beyond that trinity of measures. Chopra has gone on the offensive, arguing that Northam has been too accommodating of the gun lobby in the past, noting that he had a B rating from the NRA as recently as 2008 and that he sided with the organization in voting for legislation that would require municipalities that hold gun buyback initiatives to sell the guns back to the public, instead of melting them down, and for legislation barring municipalities from fingerprinting concealed-carry applicants. A recent mailing from the Chopra campaign attacked Northam for voting in 2012 to shield from prosecution homeowners who kill nonthreatening intruders: “Laws like these have been used to justify the death of teenager Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed while walking home,” the mailer declares. The mailer blurs the distinction between the castle doctrine that lies at the heart of the legislation Northam backed, and "stand your ground" laws like the one at issue in the Florida killing of Martin, but the Chopra campaign argues that the principle at stake is the same: giving too much leeway to gun owners to use deadly force when it is not absolutely necessary, without fear of legal repercussion.
The New Republic views this as the changing politics of gun control - the fact that Democratic candidates are talking gun control in the state that is home to the NRA, as if this is the first time a Democrat in Virginia has run on gun control.  In 2001, then Delegate Don McEachin ran on the issue of gun control.  In 2010, Representative Gerry Connolly, running for re-election, rolled out gun control at the end of his campaign.  And, as noted by the New Republic, in 2009, then former Delegate Brian Moran (D-Alexandria) went after State Senator Creigh Deeds for being too pro-gun when they were running for the Democratic nomination for Governor.

Chopra and the New Republic are trying to make Northam sound firearm friendly simply because of one vote that he cast.  The fact is neither of these will be good for supporters of the Second Amendment so we need to get behind E.W. Jackson and make sure he has the funding necessary to define himself before his opponents get the chance to define him.

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