RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Friday signed into law a compromise gun policy hammered out between Democrats and Republicans who rarely see eye-to-eye on the hot-button issue.
The measures will allow more out-of-state concealed-handgun permit holders to legally carry guns in Virginia, prohibit people subject to permanent protective orders from carrying firearms and require police presence at gun shows for voluntary background checks.
McAuliffe touted it as a historic agreement that will keep Virginians safer, noting that the gun debate has had “sharp edges that have kept us apart for many years.”
“Common ground on this issue, as you know, has been elusive for so long,” McAuliffe said. “We had a choice to make: We could continue to shake our fists and condemn the status quo or we could take action to actually change it — to do what voters actually elected us to do.”
The governor was joined during the bill signing at the Executive Mansion by Republican leadership, law enforcement officials, supporters of domestic violence survivors and others.
The measures flew through the GOP-controlled House and Senate with little opposition.
The compromise was vehemently opposed by Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun-control group, Everytown for Gun Safety. The once-strong ally of McAuliffe ran ads in Virginia attacking him for the deal, saying it gives too much to gun-rights advocates.
“I understand that politics is about compromise. But it is baffling that someone like Gov. McAuliffe, who has a reputation as a great deal maker, accepted a deal that so many have described as a giveaway to the gun lobby,” said Andy Parker, whose daughter Alison was killed on live TV while conducting an interview in August. Parker noted in a statement that McAuliffe signed the legislation on the six-month anniversary of his daughter’s death.
Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, was noticeably absent at Friday’s bill signing.
Herring’s decision in December to revoke Virginia’s concealed-handgun-permit agreements with 25 other states infuriated Republicans and set into motion negotiations between Republican lawmakers and McAuliffe’s office. Herring said at the time that the move was necessary because those states don’t have strong enough concealed-handgun-permit laws.
Herring’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday. But he has quietly criticized the compromise, saying that legislation to remove guns from the hands of domestic abusers “should not need to come at the price of dangerous or irresponsible people carrying concealed handguns in Virginia.”
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