“Since assuming the mantle of attorney general, Mr. Herring has pretty much earned that 'most extreme' label consistently, simply by being who he is."
Our Views: To governor's left?
June 23, 2017
Northam, Herring on gun control
Call him what you will — liberal, progressive, whatever — Gov. McAuliffe is by no means the most extreme member of his far-left administration. Not by a long shot (no pun intended).
Vying for that dubious honor, for the moment, are Attorney General Mark Herring and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, now the Democratic nominee for governor.
Since assuming the mantle of attorney general, Mr. Herring has pretty much earned that “most extreme” label consistently, simply by being who he is. Over his four years in office, has anyone ever seen him take up a conservative cause in court, especially on firearms? He may have, but we do not recall him doing so. And remember, as chief judicial officer of the commonwealth, his job is to defend state law against legal challenge. Mr. Herring showed early on he wasn’t prepared to do this when he gratuitously spurned the defense of traditional marriage passed by the people in referendum.
Mr. Northam, fully dragged to the left by former congressman Tom Perriello during the primary season, is now giving Mr. Herring a run for his money. On Tuesday, Mr. Northam and the entire statewide Democratic ticket received the endorsement of former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and his buddies at the anti-gun group Everytown for Gun Safety. To be sure, the lieutenant governor gained this imprimatur honestly, if not with creative flair. Dredging up hardy gun-control chestnuts, he is calling for an assault weapons ban and smart-gun technology that allows only the owner to discharge a weapon.
Mr. Northam’s rhetoric has also taken on a boilerplate quality: Even with Republican Rep. Steve Scalise (La.) lying in a hospital bed seriously injured with a gunshot wound, all the lieutenant governor could muster at a Richmond fundraiser last Saturday was, “We have to address these tragedies with action ... and promote responsible gun ownership.” Always the same flawed (or empty) antidote.
At least on one occasion, the same charges could not be leveled at Mr. McAuliffe, who brokered a gun deal with GOP leaders in early 2016 and earned the enmity of Mr. Bloomberg and his “Everytown” friends who had poured $2.4 million into the previous fall’s elections in support of McAuliffe-backed Democrats.
So there you have it, the one time Terry McAuliffe, the governor who banned firearms in state buildings, was too far to the right. But Messrs. Northam and Herring? They always seem to pass the test.
By the way, the deal the governor helped craft expanded Virginia’s recognition of out-of-state gun permits while adding voluntary background checks at gun shows and requiring domestic abusers to give up their guns. The agreement overturned a Herring decision to end recognition of permits in states with looser vetting processes and requires Virginia to strike reciprocity deals with any state desiring one.
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