McAuliffe re­news call for stricter gun laws

The Washington Post Sunday - - LOCAL OPINIONS - BY JENNA PORTNOY jenna.portnoy@wash­post.com

rich­mond — In a replay of the af­ter­math of the Au­gust slay­ing of two broad­cast jour­nal­ists in south­west Vir­ginia, Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Fri­day said stricter gun laws and an ex­pan­sion of Med­i­caid to treat the men­tally ill could cur­tail gun vi­o­lence such as the deadly Ore­gon col­lege shoot­ing.

The rampage last week that left nine dead, plus gun­man Chris Harper-Mercer, is the latest in a se­ries of at­tacks in­volv­ing guns that have pushed politi­cians fur­ther to their par­ti­san corners on gun con­trol.

“Your heart goes out to them, all of those fam­i­lies to­day that are wak­ing up re­al­iz­ing that their loved ones are gone,” McAuliffe (D) said dur­ing a call-in show on WTOP (103.5 FM).

Re­fer­ring to the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion, McAuliffe added, “At what point will these politi­cians stop be­ing be­holden to the NRA and do some com­mon-sense things like back­ground checks?”

McAuliffe has been out­spo­ken on the is­sue, de­spite crit­i­cism that he used the tragedies to ad­vance his pol­icy agenda.

Two days af­ter the shoot­ing of the jour­nal­ists, McAuliffe’s po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee re­ceived $50,000 from for­mer con­gress­woman Gabrielle Gif­fords’s Amer­i­cans for Re­spon­si­ble So­lu­tions, which ad­vo­cates for stronger gun laws.

McAuliffe, who said he spoke with Ore­gon Gov. Kate Brown (D) on Thurs­day night, ac­knowl­edged that re­quir­ing back­ground checks at gun shows would not have stopped the man who killed the two TV jour­nal­ists at Smith Moun­tain Lake or oth­ers who have ob­tained guns legally. “But it will stop some,” he said. Del. C. Todd Gil­bert (RShenan­doah), a crim­i­nal de­fense lawyer and for­mer pros­e­cu­tor, pushed back against McAuliffe’s call for stricter gun reg­u­la­tions and said it was in­sult­ing to sug­gest that law­mak­ers would be swayed by cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions and pres­sure from the NRA.

Deal­ers who set up at gun shows must con­duct back­ground checks, but pri­vate cit­i­zens who want to sell guns “should be able to do that with­out the gov­ern­ment be­ing in­volved in that trans­ac­tion,” Gil­bert said in a phone in­ter­view.

He also re­jected McAuliffe’s call in the past week to bar firearms pos­ses­sion by peo­ple who are un­der pro­tec­tive abuse or­ders, or who have been con­victed of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and stalk­ing mis­de­meanors.

Such laws would not de­ter those bent on mur­der from killing their part­ners, Gil­bert said.

“I just won­der why the fo­cus is al­ways on guns rather than ef­forts to iden­tify peo­ple who are truly in cri­sis and try to em­power them,” Gil­bert said.

In re­sponse to call­ers to the ra­dio show who noted that many shoot­ers have suf­fered from men­tal ill­ness, McAuliffe said that ex­pand­ing Med­i­caid would pro­vide mil­lions of dol­lars for treat­ment.

“I’m try­ing,” he said. “But the same peo­ple who are against try­ing to bring com­mon-sense gun re­stric­tions are the same peo­ple who won’t give fund­ing to deal with those in­di­vid­u­als with se­vere men­tal ill­ness.”

The over­whelm­ingly Repub­li­can House of Del­e­gates has blocked McAuliffe’s re­peated at­tempts to ex­pand Med­i­caid to 400,000 unin­sured Vir­gini­ans un­der the fed­eral Af­ford­able Care Act. They say that the fi­nan­cial bur­den from en­larg­ing the gov­ern­ment pro­gram would even­tu­ally shift to the states.

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