The Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, argued at a debate at Virginia Tech, where a mass shooting killed 32 people in 2007, that stricter gun regulation would not have prevented the massacre.
The Virginia Attorney General is falling behind in the polls against Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe.
The final debate ahead of the election was held at the Blacksburg campus on Thursday. The moderator asked candidates about their stance on background checks for private and commercial sales and high-capacity magazines.
Wearing a pin to commemorate the 32 people who died and the 17 others who were wounded when senior Seung-Hui Cho opened fire at the campus on Apr. 16, 2007, McAuliffe told the audience that while he is a gun owner and strong believer in the Second Amendment, he believes “some people should not own guns.”
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“I think it’s important to understand that when we drop our children off at school or we drop loved ones off at work, we want to make sure that our children, our loved ones are safe,” McAuliffe said.
Cuccinelli, who is backed by the National Rifle Association, responded that backgrounds checks are useless.
“You know what happened here at Virginia Tech was a tragedy that still affects everyone in Virginia,” Cuccinelli said. “But none of what you’ve asked about would have affected that tragedy.”
“I’m an A-rated NRA candidate,” he added. “I’m running against the only — the only — F-rated candidate running statewide. And that’s Terry McAuliffe. And his allies are running an ad right now in Northern Virginia that falsely claims that we can get safety from some of these restrictions on law abiding citizens.”
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Cuccinelli believes mass shootings are a mental healthcare issue. He argued that he’s been “one of the leading experts on mental health” – not a mental health advocate – throughout his career in Virginia, “long before I ran for office.”
Cuccinelli has a Bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Virginia and a J.D. and a Masters in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University.