July 10, 2020
By Mark Chesnut
What kind of politician holds a signing ceremony more than a week after several new laws have already gone into effect? If you guessed a pompous one wanting to rub salt into the wounds of his political opponents, you’d be right.
That’s a perfect description of Democrat Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. On Thursday, Northam held a signing ceremony for several measures passed earlier in the year and that had already gone into effect on July 1.
“None of these laws are radical,” Northam said at the signing. “None of these laws punish sportsmen or responsible gun owners. And none of these laws violate our Second Amendment.”
In fact, none of those statements are true. Among the bills signed—for an unnecessary second time—were the following, none of which will affect the actions of criminals, only law-abiding gun owners:
Senate Bill 35 destroyed Virginia’s firearm preemption law, allowing local officials to create new “gun-free zones,” which are largely ignored by violent criminals. Alexandria has already passed such an ordinance.
Senate Bill 69 limits a Virginia resident’s ability to purchase more than one handgun in a 30-day period. Ironically, studies have shown gun-rationing schemes don’t affect criminals.
Senate Bill 70 created a so-called “universal” background check requirement for gun transfers, including loans between friends and family members. Of course, they’re only “universal” for lawful gun owners, since criminals get their guns by other means.
Senate Bill 240 implemented a so-called “red-flag” law in Virginia, allowing judges to order confiscation of firearms without due process, based only on accusations and without the gun owner having a hearing.
Of course, goading his opponents and celebrating his self-perceived stardom weren’t the only reasons for Northam’s signing ceremony. Northam and other gun-ban advocates used the opportunity to rally the anti-gun troops in their push for even more restrictive laws when the General Assembly begins its work again next year.
Their top priority seems to be a so-called “assault weapons” ban, which will target ownership of the most popular semi-automatic rifles in the country. Such a ban was instituted on the federal level back in the 1990s during Bill Clinton’s presidency, but even the Department of Justice later declared the ban ineffective, explaining, “At best, the assault weapons ban can have only a limited effect on total gun murders, because the banned weapons and magazines were never involved in more than a modest fraction of all gun murders.”
Ironically, toward the end of the ceremony, as Northam signed the bill, he gathered everyone around him where more than 10 people were closer to him than the six feet prescribed by the Centers for Disease Control for COVID-19 prevention. He even signed the bills without wearing a mask or gloves, then handed the paperwork to the legislators who sponsored the measures.
In typical fashion, the local press ate up Northam’s dog and pony show, with local channel WWBT calling the media-fest, which was streamed live on Facebook, a “ceremonial bill signing for gun legislation.” I guess it’s too much to expect the so-called “mainstream” media to ever call an anti-gun rally an anti-gun rally, even if it’s held by one of the most gun-hating governors in the country.
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 the past 20 years.