On the divisive issue of guns, differences between red and blue weren’t always so black and white

On the divisive issue of guns, differences between red and blue weren’t always so black and white

No one who hasn’t lived as a hermit in a cave in Borneo the past few decades can profess ignorance of the potent role the implacable dispute over gun rights vs. gun control plays in today’s politics. If you’re a Republican, you can’t love unfettered rights to own and use firearms enough. It’s a sine qua non for GOP voters who won’t abide even minimal squishiness on gun rights from their candidates. To appreciate its power, consider a campaign mailer that Winsome Sears, the party’s lieutenant governor nominee, sent out before the May 8 state GOP convention depicting her in a business suit holding a military-style rifle in front of a modest recreational vehicle. Democrats are just as strident in their opposition to the National Rifle Association and in their support for restricting gun sales and ownership. The party’s gubernatorial nominee, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, boasts of the F grades the NRA gives him. When Democrats took control of the General Assembly in 2020, they acted quickly to pass several gun-control measures that had died each year when the Republicans ruled the House and Senate, including mandatory universal background checks for gun purchases. The legislation prompted a protest by thousands of gun-rights supporters in early January of that year on and surrounding the state Capitol grounds. After the bills became law, many Virginia localities declared themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries” in which some sheriffs and police refused to enforce the new regulations. It is an issue with no middle ground. […]

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