By: Brenden Boudreau
In the wake of the Virginia state legislative elections that saw Democrats take control of both chambers of the General Assembly, gun owners are right to be concerned about the future of the Second Amendment in the Commonwealth.
Democrats are heading into the 2020 legislative session with complete control of the Virginia General Assembly and the Governor’s Mansion for the first time in decades, albeit the Democrats who are set to take control are not your grandfather’s Democrats of old.
Whereas there was once a time that a good percentage of Virginia Democrats were nominally pro-gun, this new class of lawmakers is set to be the most anti-gun group heading to Richmond in the history of the Commonwealth.
Disgraced Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who wasted no time attempting to politicize the murder of City of Virginia Beach employees in a de facto “gun free” zone, boasted after the election that he suspects most of the work passing his gun control agenda “will be done in January.”
Incoming Democrat lawmakers have already publicly stated that they intend to pass gun control in January, according to The Virginia-Pilot.
Things certainly do look bleak for gun rights in Virginia, but Democrats in Richmond shouldn’t count their eggs before they hatch.
While national Democrats and anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg spent millions of dollars to essentially buy the election, newly elected Democrats would be naïve to think they are going to be able to pass far-reaching anti-gun measures without a fight from pro-gun Virginians.
And if they desire to stay in legislative majorities for longer than a two-year cycle, they’d be wise to tread lightly.
But the only way the new Democrat majorities are going to learn this lesson is for gun rights activists across the state to start mobilizing now.
The only true path to victory for Virginia gun owners starts with every Republican lawmaker standing up for the Second Amendment, as they claim that they do while running for office.
Of course, they should never be taken at their word, but need to be leaned on early and often to hold fast to their campaign promises and fight to protect the gun rights of all Virginians.
Holding together the 45 Republicans in the House and 19 in the Senate gives gun owners a fighting chance to peel off a handful of Democrats in each chamber to kill the myriad gun control proposals being floated by Gov. Northam.
With Democrats holding the tiebreaker in the Senate in Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, it’ll take flipping two Democrats to defeat any gun control measures in the upper chamber, if every Republican stands strong.
Though with Republican Senate leader Tommy Norment floating his own gun control proposals earlier this year, he is going to need extra attention from gun owners to reverse course from his weak-kneed ways and stand firm on the Second Amendment.
Democrats won two seats previously held by Republicans to gain the majority in the Senate, those being Senate Districts 10 and 13. Gun rights activists in these two districts must make it abundantly clear that supporting gun control is a political liability for the two freshman Democrat Senators now representing these districts, regardless of any “mandate” to pass gun control that they believe they received in their election.
Over the in the House of Delegates, there is no tiebreaking system, meaning only five Democrat Delegates will need to be flipped to defeat any gun control measures in that chamber, assuming every Republican stands firm on the Second Amendment.
Several members of the Republican House caucus will need extra encouragement to stand strong, including Delegate Jason Miyares of House District 82, who sponsored a version of “Red Flag” legislation during the July special session.
The good news is that there are eight districts that Democrats narrowly won by fewer than three percentage points, three of which were previously held by Republicans.
Delegates in these districts are the most vulnerable to grassroots pressure, as all of them will already be thinking about their re-election bids that are fewer than two years away. While many of them may have run as fire-breathing anti-gunners, actually voting for the gun control and then going to back to the district with those on their record in swing districts is a different story.
It is going to take a groundswell of grassroots activism in the handful of districts in both the House and the Senate if there is any chance of defeating Northam’s gun control agenda in 2020.
As much as the mainstream media wants you to believe gun control passing in Virginia is inevitable, everything changes as soon as the votes start happening, and the pressure starts mounting in the General Assembly.
While much has changed over the last decade in Virginia with the growth of Northern Virginia and other urban strongholds, the Old Dominion is not a lost cause, nor is it necessarily going to be converted into an East Coast version of California.
But the only way Virginia isn’t going to be lost to the gun control crowd is by pro-gun Virginians standing up and fighting tooth-and-nail every single gun control proposal introduced in the General Assembly.
Brenden Boudreau is the Director of Field Operations for the National Association for Gun Rights, writing from Michigan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Disclosure: In addition to his work with the National Association for Gun Rights, the author is also Executive Director of Great Lakes Gun Rights.