Virginia

McAuliffe bans open carry of guns in some state buildings

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, center, signs an executive action to prevent gun violence as from left to right, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-VA, Andy Parker, his wife Barbara Parker, parents of slain WDBJ-TV reporter Alison Parker, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, Lori Haas, whose daughter Emily was injured in the VA Tech shootings, and Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran watch during a press conference in Richmond, Va Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015.   (Bob Brown /Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT (

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, center, signs an executive action to prevent gun violence as from left to right, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-VA, Andy Parker, his wife Barbara Parker, parents of slain WDBJ-TV reporter Alison Parker, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, Lori Haas, whose daughter Emily was injured in the VA Tech shootings, and Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran watch during a press conference in Richmond, Va Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. (Bob Brown /Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT (

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday banned the open carry of guns in some state-owned buildings and pledged to pursue a muscular and multifaceted strategy to combat gun violence in Virginia.

McAuliffe — flanked by U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, law enforcement officers and parents of victims killed in high-profile gun-related crimes — indicated he would exercise as much executive authority as he could on gun control measures while also trying to pressure the Republican-controlled General Assembly to enact gun control legislation.

“Gun crimes are not acts of God,” McAuliffe. “But for too long, certain politicians and lobbyists have told us that gun violence in America is some kind of natural phenomena, something we cannot do anything about.”

McAuliffe’s executive order immediately bans the open carry of firearms, except by law enforcement officials, in offices used by executive branch agencies. The governor also instructed a state administrator to propose regulations within the next 30 days to ban concealed weapons in the same offices. Virginia allows both the open carry and concealed carry of guns in public spaces.

Brian Coy, a spokesman for the governor, said the ban would apply to 5,900 state buildings, including Department of Motor Vehicle customer service centers.

The governor’s executive order also sets up a law enforcement-centered task force aimed at more robust prosecution of gun crimes, establishes a statewide tip line to report gun crimes and orders state police to request a trace of every gun involved in a crime in Virginia.

McAuliffe has been an outspoken advocate for tighter gun control measures, but has failed to get those efforts past the Republican-controlled General Assembly. The governor said Thursday he will continue to try and push lawmakers to pass what he said was commonsense legislation.

Republican lawmakers reacted to McAuliffe’s executive order with skepticism.

In a statement, House Majority Leader Del. Kirk Cox said he’s confident law enforcement officials are already enforcing existing guns laws and McAuliffe and Herring “should take extra care before interfering with their work.”

Gun issues have long been a political flash point in Virginia, where the Virginia Tech mass shooting took place in 2007 and a TV reporter and cameraman near Roanoke were shot and killed in August during a live broadcast. Special interest groups on both sides are expected to spend heavily to help influence the outcome of the upcoming legislative elections in Virginia, which will determine which party controls the state Senate.

Andy Parker, whose daughter Alison Parker was fatally shot during the broadcast two months ago, praised McAuliffe for being so aggressive on gun-control measures.

“He’s my hero,” Parker said.

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