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Virginia GOP candidate haunted by NRA endorsement after Vegas massacre

After Stephen Paddock killed 59 people in Las Vegas and injured nearly 600 more with an arsenal of weapons, American political discussion is once again dominantly focused on gun policy. From workplace watercoolers to corner bars, to newsrooms across the United States, people are asking what can be done to prevent senseless shootings. Of course, […]

By Mike Stark - October 06, 2017
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NRA-endorsed candidate for Virginia governor Ed Gillespie
NRA-endorsed candidate for Virginia governor Ed Gillespie

After Stephen Paddock killed 59 people in Las Vegas and injured nearly 600 more with an arsenal of weapons, American political discussion is once again dominantly focused on gun policy. From workplace watercoolers to corner bars, to newsrooms across the United States, people are asking what can be done to prevent senseless shootings.

Of course, not all Americans have joined the discussion. In particular, Republican leaders have remained conspicuously silent with regards to passing any new gun laws.

One member of the conspicuously silent cabal of gun-violence enablers is Ed Gillespie, the GOP candidate for governor in next month’s Virginia election, whom Donald Trump endorsed on Twitter Thursday night.

Gillespie has been endorsed by the NRA, and like the NRA, he has gone silent in the days since Sunday night’s horrific night of terror.

Asked to comment on his endorsement and why he’s hiding his responses to the NRA’s questionnaire, Gillespie refused to answer.

Gillespie has always been an establishment Republican with a keen sense of the political moment. That almost certainly explains his refusal to release his completed NRA candidate questionnaire. Gillespie simply does not want Virginians to know what he promised to do for the NRA.

Even so, it is worthwhile examining the blank questionnaire while keeping in mind that Gillespie earned an “A” grade from the organization. In Virginia, the NRA questionnaire asks:

Would you support a legislative proposal that would repeal current law and allow permit holders to carry a concealed handgun on K-12 school grounds in Virginia?

The NRA does not limit K-12 gun access to teachers and administrators; presumably, it would apply to anyone capable of obtaining a permit. Paddock, with no criminal or mental health record, certainly would have been permitted upon request.

Of course, the NRA also despises the entire permitting process. Here’s another of its questions:

Would you support legislation that would [repeal] the license requirement for the carrying of a concealed firearm?

This is especially interesting because taken together, the two policies would reduce the concealed carry age from 21 to 18 and put guns into the hands of at least some students. It would also put unrestricted guns into the hands of MS-13 gang members — the very group Gillespie is citing in blatantly racist attack ads against his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam.

The two policies would also do nothing to stop someone like Paddock from arming himself to the teeth and going on a deadly shooting rampage.

Virginians deserve to know how Gillespie answered the NRA’s questions. But Gillespie refuses to release his answers. Considering that shrewd candidates for elective office like to talk about winning issues while dodging transparency when it will cost them votes, Gillespie’s craven kowtowing to the NRA is almost certainly not in Virginia’s best interest.


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