Following the shooting of two Roanoke journalists this August, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe spoke on the need to pass tougher gun laws in the state.
McAuliffe discussed the issue during the monthly WTOP “Ask the Governor” program. The governor said he supports requiring background checks for any firearm purchase. Currently, buyers at Virginia gun shows do not have to undergo any sort of background check.
The background checks are brief and easy according to the Governor. McAuliffe, a gun owner and hunter, described the process, “You go into the store, you hand your license over. It doesn’t take…but three, four, maybe five minutes.”
According to Virginia criminal lawyer Scott Porter, “The Commonwealth of Virginia already has laws in place that prevent convicted felons from owning firearms. It would seem that the idea behind stricter background checks, however, would be to aid in enforcing those laws already in effect.”
This January, McAuliffe’s most recent attempt to enact new gun laws failed to make it past a Senate committee.
“I’ve proposed this twice now to the General Assembly. I ran on the topic. It was part of my platform that we need tougher gun laws in the Commonwealth…I will continue to push [gun control] as I have in two legislative sessions so far. I put it up again last year. It never sees the light of day.”
McAuliffe blames an apathetic state legislature for the lack of progress on the issue: “It doesn’t get through the General Assembly. It doesn’t get through the House of Delegates. They don’t want any changes.”
Part of McAuliffe’s frustration stems from the state’s history with gun violence. In 2007, Virginia Tech was the site of one of the worst gun-related massacres in American history. 32 people were killed.
McAuliffe said, “We have had a horrible history on this issue,” and that “people who have committed dangerous crimes or those with histories of stalking or committing domestic abuse should not be entitled to own a firearm.”