Why The Virginia Gun Deal Is A Reasonably Good One

| by Nik Bonopartis
Buyers browse firearms at a 2007 gun show in Houston.Buyers browse firearms at a 2007 gun show in Houston.

Democracy lives!

The disaffected, doom-and-gloom types should be happy to hear what's happened in Virginia, where a coalition of Democrats and Republicans worked together on common-sense gun legislation.

The deal is a result of six individual bills, together forming a three-pronged compromise that gives both sides what they want:

  • Any gun owner slapped with an order of protection for domestic abuse will have 24 hours to relinquish their weapons to authorities. If they don't, they'll be charged with a class 6 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
  • The deal plugs a hole in Virginia law -- and adds another layer of verification for gun dealers -- by specifying that Virginia State Police will attend every gun show in the state. Troopers will be able to assist vendors by accessing the federal background check system, according to Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe's office. Previously, dealers without a federal license couldn't access the system.
  • In the spirit of compromise, the deal gave gun rights advocates something they want in return: Virginia will now recognize concealed carry permits from other states, and Virginians with concealed carry permits will be able to carry their firearms in states that also have concealed carry laws.

Although the individual bills had been in the works for months, disagreements over the concealed carry part of the compromise threatened to derail the deal, the Washington Post reported, until an agreement was brokered by both sides over an oyster dinner in Richmond.

“Anybody who says the ‘Virginia Way’ is dead: It’s not dead. It’s alive and well,” said Republican state Sen. Bryce E. Reeves, according to the Post. “We can find compromise on the most contentious issues if we can shelve the politics and work together.”

While the domestic abuse bill was sponsored by Democrats, and the concealed carry bill was pushed by Republicans, state legislators from both parties worked together on putting troopers at gun shows. That legislation will also include $100,000 to fund background checks.

The compromise is a victory for Virginians, and for common sense. Fringe elements on the right and left grumbled about some of the particulars, noted, but their displeasure wasn't enough to stop the momentum.

More importantly, it's a reminder of what lawmakers can accomplish when they stop demonizing each other, remind themselves they work for the people, and make a good-faith effort to negotiate.

Compromise was at the heart of the Constitutional Convention; our Founding Fathers would have been proud.  Having a majority party run roughshod over the minority was never what they envisioned, and the constitution was carefully constructed to make it difficult for that to happen.

With the way modern media portrays politics, it can seem like news anchors are standing in opposite corners of a boxing ring, forcing Republicans and Democrats toward each other with cattle prods. Political reporters love to use words like battle and war when describing disagreements, and are fond of characterizing campaigns with words better suited to street fights.

At a time when too many politicians think it makes them appear weak to work across party lines, the new Virginia gun laws show us what's possible when they act like adults instead of children. Here's to hoping we see more of it.

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: Townhall, Washington Post,, USHistory,org / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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