Tuesday, June 18, 2019

From Pro-gun State Senator to Anti-Gun - Profile of Senator John Edwards

Virginia Mercury has this article on State Senator John Edwards, who for most of his career in the General Assembly supported 2nd Amendment Rights and was endorsed as recently as 2015 by the NRA, but who last session voted for every gun ban proposal that came before the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.
He says he can’t anymore. Over his past four years in office he quietly shifted from either not voting on or opposing most gun control legislation that came his way to backing the entire slate of proposals put forward by Gov. Ralph Northam this year, including the one-hand-gun-a-month law he helped overturn.

“The NRA’s attitude was always the same,” Edwards, a 75-year-old lawyer and former Marine, said. “You can’t do anything. Nothing can be done. But something has to be done.”

His break was gradual, he said – driven less by a single event and more by a growing sense that the tide of violence was rising and the NRA was only becoming more strident in its resistance to any reform.

It mirrors a broader shift among Democrats in a state where opposition to new gun control measures was once assumed key to winning rural areas.
Edwards wasn't the only formerly pro-gun Democrat the Mercury spoke with.  Former Delegate Albert Pollard, who also was endorsed by the NRA while in office, said much the same as Edwards:
Former Del. Albert Pollard, a Northern Neck Democrat who, like Edwards, was once endorsed by the NRA, agrees. And, like Edwards, he says the organization hasn’t done itself any favors in recent years.

“It’s hard for today’s younger activists to believe, but at one point in time, the NRA was not a partisan organization,” he said. “They’ve clearly drifted into the fringe.”
It's interesting that Pollard says NRA has drifted to the "fringe" because the NRA's position on everything from opposing bans on semi-automatic rifles, to opposing bans on ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, to opposing background checks on private sales, was the same when Edwards and Pollard first ran for office as it is today.  The NRA is endorsing mostly Republicans not because they are an arm of the Republican Party but because most Democrats (and basically all in Virginia) take a position on those issues that is opposite the position of the NRA.

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