By Robert A. Vella
In a case that’s sure to inflame public perceptions of untrustworthy politicians, Virginia’s Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe has reversed himself on a high-profile gun control measure. Elected in 2013 on a platform that included sensible restrictions on guns (e.g. universal background checks, and banning assault weapons), McAuliffe caved-in to pressure from the NRA and Republicans yesterday by announcing a bipartisan compromise which will negate an action taken by his own administration last December. That action, enacted by Attorney General Mark Herring (a Democrat, also elected in 2013) and scheduled to take effect on February 1st, would have denied recognition of concealed-carry permits issued to residents of 25 U.S. states having lax gun control laws.
Virginia, as you might remember, has been hit by mass shootings in recent years including the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre and the 2015 live television murders of journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward.
The reaction from gun control advocates was swift and negative. Alison Parker’s father Andy issued this statement:
“Gov. McAuliffe should not be willing to recognize concealed carry permits from states where you can get a permit with no safety training, or even if you have a violent criminal record or a stalking conviction — all in exchange for the NRA’s support of watered-down gun safety bills.”
For the record, Terry McAuliffe was co-chairman of Bill Clinton’s 1996 reelection campaign and chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. He’s seen as a centrist who represents the nation’s socioeconomic establishment. Such politicians have come under increasing fire as America’s cultural and political polarization has intensified. It’s an unstable situation where divergent populist ideologies are colliding with political pragmatism and institutional intransigence. Above all, the people want their elected leaders and representatives to govern as they said they would when running for office. It’s a matter of trust and, in the eyes of most Americans, that trust has been severely compromised.