Opposition to the McAuliffe deal has been nearly universal on the anti-gun side. Even Bloomberg’s Everytown, which is generally willing to bend to reality much of the time is pretty angry about it. I don’t blame them. If I were in their shoes, I’d be pretty pissed off too if a big issue like reciprocity was traded for the trifle they got in return. It would be like if a Governor we backed agreed to an assault weapons ban in exchange for some extra money for public ranges and more wildlife conservation.
But the fact that the anti-gun groups are engaged in an effort to twist McAuliffe’s arm out of the deal doesn’t stop a group like Gun Owners of America from joining them. They are urging their members to call their representatives and senators to oppose the deal. We’re fortunate that it has passed the Senate, so I’m not certain GOA had too much of a negative effect.
Their logic for opposition relies on two items. The first is that the voluntary checks is just the first step toward making them mandatory. I’ve long said, legislatures can always pass gun control in the future, and we know they already want to ban private transferring of firearms. The key is whether the concession weakens your position and arguments. Hate to tell you all, but when we argued that NICS would be the bees knees, in leu of waiting periods, we already largely made that concession. State police at gun shows to do voluntary checks doesn’t really further weaken our position. The camel got his nose under this particular tent in 1994.
GOA’s other premise is that there’s no state analogue mens rea requirement of “knowingly” in the state mirror to the Domestic Violence Restraining Order prohibitions from the Lautenberg Amendment. Looking at the federal statute, 18 USC 922(g)(8), I’m not seeing where it says knowingly. The Virginia bill does in fact say “knowingly.” I’m pretty sure if you can show that the person knew they were subject of a DVRO, and knew they were in possession of a firearm, the mens rea requirement is fulfilled. I admit, I don’t really understand GOA’s argument here. Proving mens rea is always part of the state’s burden for a serious offense even if the statute does not explicitly say so.
So if this deal ends up tanked, and we lose all that reciprocity, you’ll be able to thank Larry Pratt right alongside Mike Bloomberg, Josh Horwtiz, and Ladd Everitt.
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