Just like clockwork, a few days after a low-turnout election put the Virginia legislature in the hands of Democrats—allowing anti-gun Gov. Ralph Northam the opportunity to announce he will revive his gun control agenda in January—Virginia gun owners flocked to the Richmond Gun Show over the weekend.
According to WWBT News, “thousands of Second Amendment supporters” attended the Showmasters’ gun show at the Richmond Raceway on Saturday. It’s the second-largest show of its kind in the Commonwealth, the report noted.
But looking back on the election, two things happened and maybe Old Dominion gun owners need to own at least part of the defeat. The Virginia Public Access Project reports on its website, “Nearly 40% of voters statewide cast ballots in this year’s General Assembly elections, up from 29% from 2015. Turnout this year ranged from under 22% to more than 58%. Select a district below for more information.”
Did gun owners sit out the election? If so, why?
Vox is reporting that the National Rifle Association, which is headquartered in Fairfax, was “dramatically outspent.” According to MSNBC, the spending margin was 8-to-1, with anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund spending $2.5 million, and the Giffords gun control group founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, spending $300,000 on a digital campaign. NRA spent just over $350,000.
And now Virginia gun owners have rushed to a gun show in advance of the Democrat takeover.
Northam told WWBT, the local NBC affiliate, that his agenda “will save lives in Virginia.” That may be a questionable prediction. Last year, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, Virginia reported 391 homicides, including 297 involving firearms. That number is significantly down from the 453 slayings in 2017, including 338 involving guns. In 2016, the state reported 482 murder of which 352 were committed with firearms, according to FBI data for that year. Back in 2015, the Commonwealth reported 383 killings, of which 275 involved firearms, FBA data for that year says, and in 2014, the data says there were 337 slayings and 228 of those were committed with guns.
With the number of slayings already dropping, will Northam and the Democrats take credit if the decline continues? What if it increases with the new gun control laws he is promising?
There is no way to tell whether many of the gun owners who patronized the weekend gun show participated in the election, but when only about 40 percent of registered voters cast ballots, it is usually a safe bet that among those who stayed home on Election Day were at least some of the people at that Richmond gun show.
In the election’s aftermath, gun control proponents were quickly back at their fund raising efforts. Gun owners hoping to protect their Second Amendment rights might take a lesson from that. Instead of spending lots of money at gun shows anticipating the worst, they might start a PAC of their own to raise money for political activities in 2020. Chances are they’re going to need it.