Editorial: Gun lobby looks ahead
With Kaine's veto pen gone, gun lovers will be working harder to relax gun restrictions in Virginia.
Virginia's gun lobby has reason to celebrate as it prepares for a promising legislative session.
For the first time in years, gun lovers won't have to fear that hard-won bills will face a governor's veto pen. Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell is a favorite of the National Rifle Association, and it's unlikely he'll disappoint.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League is preparing to push a number of pro-gun bills, including several that fell to Gov. Tim Kaine's veto pen in past years. They'll begin the lobbying push with an event at the capital on Monday, Martin Luther King Day. Any irony in holding a push to weaken gun laws on a day honoring a civil rights leader slain by a bullet is either lost on this crowd or intentional.
Among the bills VCDL will be pushing: a repeal of the ban on carrying concealed weapons in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, a repeal of the one-gun-a-month purchase limit, and "streamlining" the application process for concealed permits by allowing applications by mail and eliminating any fingerprinting requirements imposed by localities.
Kaine vetoed the first two last year. The third appears to be an extension of a bill that passed over Kaine's veto, allowing concealed carry permit applicants to demonstrate their competence with a handgun by taking an online course. The goal appears to be to make it as easy as possible for anyone to get a concealed carry permit while making it as difficult as possible for localities issuing the permits to conduct thorough background checks.
In recent years, Senate Democrats and moderate Republicans have been able to pander to the card-carrying NRA members among their constituents. They could approve bills they probably knew were unwise, secure in the knowledge that Kaine would veto the worst.
They no longer have that safety net. They must be prepared to stand up to the gun lobby themselves and cast some tough votes.
Virginia, for the most part, has sound gun laws that are not overly restrictive. These laws do not need to be relaxed.
There's little hope that laws will be tightened where it could do some good, such as the so-called gun-show loophole. But moderates should work to keep the worst ideas for loosening them from reaching the governor's desk.