Over the last few months, an important drama has played out in the state of Virginia. As leaders of the gun-control movement looked to prove to Democrats that their issue can move voters, they settled on Virginia as their guinea pig. After a failed election and a relatively inconsequential executive action on guns from Clintonite governor Terry McAuliffe, their experiments culminated in a bold move: unilateral action from the Democratic attorney general that broke the state’s concealed-carry reciprocity agreement (in this agreement, Virginia’s concealed-carry permits were honored by 25 other states).Then, on Friday, that action was undone by a deal between McAuliffe and Republicans.
More embarrassingly for the gun-control advocates, new details Friday revealed that the McAuliffe–Republican deal was more expansive than was first reported. Not only did the deal reverse the Democrats’ unilateral action and restore all 25 of the reciprocity deals; it also mandated that Virginia recognize permits from all states and create reciprocity agreements with every state that wants one.
The deal is a leap forward for gun-rights activists. It also undermines Democrats’ effort to present gun control as a winning issue in the state and nationally. As a movement, gun control never made much sense — it has faced one setback after another over many decades. But it nonetheless carried on full-steam ahead, and gun-control activists believed that 2016 would be the year they finally turned things around.
Their belief is proving misplaced, as polls are showing a sharp turnaround in Americans’ attitudes on guns. Up to this point, most Americans believed that guns were “too easy” to get. Up to this point, most Americans wanted to ban so-called assault weapons. The opposite is true now, and even a historic front-page New York Times anti-gun editorial hasn’t changed that. Today, most Americans are on board with concealed carry. If that’s not enough, we’re also seeing record levels of gun sales across the country.
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