November 03, 2021
The big Republican victory in Virginia on Tuesday could indicate a major shift for gun rights not only in the Commonwealth, but across the nation.
With Republicans achieving victory in the races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, as well as winning back the majority in the House of Delegates, gun rights advocates in Virginia are celebrating.
“There’s a message in yesterday’s election,” Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), said in an exclusive interview with Firearms News. “There are quite a few different things that played into what happened, but gun owners have definitely been fed up with watching our rights stripped away, and they showed up at the polls and absolutely made a difference.
“Our organization was running ads, as well as the VCDL PAC. All of that, along with other ads being run under other things, I think all made the difference.”
One of the biggest victories for gun owners was the defeat of vehemently anti-gun Gov. Terry McAuliffe by Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin. McAuliffe has targeted gun rights since taking office, and his defeat can only mean a better future for Virginia gun owners.
“The new governor did not take our surveys, but he’s spoken about the Second Amendment,” Van Cleave said. “He says he’s a gun owner and lifetime NRA member, but we really don’t have specifics. We know where Terry McAuliffe was going. We don’t really know how well the new governor will be on guns. But he’s not Terry McAuliffe, going the opposite direction and pushing gun control. Anything would have been better than Terry McAuliffe.”
It's also important that Republicans now hold the lieutenant governor’s office with Winsome Sears defeating Hala Alaya to become the commonwealth’s first female lieutenant governor.
“I didn’t run to make history, I just wanted to leave it better than I found it,” Sears said after her victory. “Hold on Virginia, help is on the way, the cavalry has arrived!”
The lieutenant governorship is important in Virginia because of the razor-thin Democrat majority in the state senate. The lieutenant governor casts the tie-breaking vote when senators are deadlocked.
“The current really horrible lieutenant governor that we had broke 50 ties over the last four years,” Van Cleave said. “That’s very important, especially considering the Democrats had a one-vote lead in the Senate. In essence they had a two-vote lead because they had the lieutenant governor, but now they’re down to one vote.
“She (Sears) is the real deal; she’s absolutely a gun person. She’ll do great.”
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Many gun owners are happy to see all of the photos of Sears at the range with her AR-15.]
State senators won’t be up for re-election for two more years. But Republicans managed to wrestle away the majority in the House of Delegates from Democrats, who had been in charge for the past two years. At this writing, it appears the Republicans will control the House of Delegates by a 52-to-48 margin, although election numbers aren’t final.
“It could swing a little bit either way, but it’s likely it will be at least 52-48, maybe a little bit more,” Van Cleave said. “The Democrats had 55-45 before the election.”
Tuesday’s big victory has pro-gun advocates in the state ready to roll back some of the restrictions McAuliffe and Democrats in the House of Delegates have managed to implement.
“We’re going to want to get out and repeal all this gun control that they’ve passed in the last two years,” Van Cleave said. “That’s what gun owners want. We want to start reversing this. Get rid of local gun control again. Allow guns in state agency buildings again, including the general assembly and the capitol. Get rid of one-gun-a-month and red-flag laws.
“So, I see a whole lot of reversing.”
Many pro-gun advocates around the nation are hoping the momentum gained in Virginia will carry over into next year’s federal mid-term elections, shifting the balance back solidly into the pro-gun camp. Van Cleave believes Virginia is a sign everyone should pay attention to as next year’s elections quickly approach.
“The problems we have in Virginia we are seeing elsewhere in the country,” he said. “Some of these are gun-related, but some of them aren’t. I think the way Virginia was headed before, the way the country is headed now and the way a whole bunch of states are headed, I think this is a harbinger of what's coming. People are saying, ‘No, I don’t want to sail this ship into those rocks. I want to turn around and get away from it.’
“So, we’ll see. That’s what we’ve done here in Virginia. Hopefully, we’ll set a standard.”
For more information on the Virginia Citizens Defense League, please visit the website at VCDL.org.
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for more than 20 years.