A few weeks have passed since scandals shook up Virginia politics, starting with the news that Governor Ralph Northam’s Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) year book page included a photo of two men at a party. One of the men in the photo wore a KKK costume, the other blackface. Governor Northam could not, in the moment, definitively say he was not one of those people. So Northam admitted he may have been in the photo, then retracted that admission the next day.
Democrats in Virginia, myself included, lined upto ask the Governor to resign. It got worse after his “Moon Walk” press conference, and speculation started about who Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax would appoint to take his place as LG after he took Northam’s place. But then the second scandal popped: accusations of sexual harassment against Fairfax. This shifted discussions to succession in Virginia, and scenarios that would put House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox in the Governor’s mansion. Soon enough a third shoe dropped: Attorney General Mark Herring volunteered that he had once appeared in blackface himself.
It appears that guns and gun control could become a hot issue in next year’s state level elections here in Virginia. Attorney General Mark Herring started the hue and cry when he ended concealed carry permit reciprocity with 25 states on the grounds that they don’t meet Virginia standards. Gun rights activists objected one the grounds that it would hurt tourism and that no one can point out a case where someone from a state with lower standards had committed a crime in Virginia. One blogger called it “slavery.” They complained that Herring just wanted to go around the General Assembly to achieve a liberal result using an executive action.
This of course ignores the plain fact that Herring did nothing unilaterally. Virginia code – in a section passed by a Republican-controlled General Assembly – requires periodic State Police audits of concealed carry laws in other states. It then mandates an end to reciprocity with those states whose laws don’t include prohibitions Virginia’s law bans, or don’t have a system for rapid verification that an applicant should not be kept from carrying a concealed weapon. Whether or not he liked the result, Herring had to take this action once the State Police reported that the laws in those 25 states don’t pass muster. Continue reading