McAuliffe reciprocity retreat actually a surrender?
posted at 4:01 pm on February 1, 2016 by Ed Morrissey
Last week, Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe reversed an order given by his fellow Democrat, Attorney General Mark Herring, that had severed carry-permit reciprocity with more than two dozen states. McAuliffe framed the action as a bipartisan deal that got Republicans to make concessions that the gun-control had previously sought. Instead, as Stephen Gutowski reports for the Free Beacon, it looks much more like a total surrender:
New details revealed on Friday show the gun carry deal between Virginia Republicans and Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.) is more expansive than first reported.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), one of the state’s leading gun rights groups, said in an email to its members that the deal would not only restore the 25 reciprocity deals Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D.) had planned to eliminate but also expand Virginia’s recognition of gun carry permits to all states.
The deal also pushes back the attorney general’s reciprocity deadline from Feb. 1 to March 1 and will require the attorney general’s office to enter into any reciprocity agreement offered by any other state, removing the discretion that allowed Herring’s unilateral action.
There were hints of that on Friday. Republicans went out of their way to be veeeerrrry nice to McAuliffe, who wanted to sell his one opportunity to claim some sort of bipartisanship. They played up the “concessions” as tough deal-making, when everyone else knew that they were nothing of the sort.
Herring and his allies were either strangely quiet, or loudly complaining. One anonymous Democratic legislator told Blue Virginia that this was “a bad deal” that would lead to “universal reciprocity.” Herring’s silence on the “deal” at the time certainly spoke volumes about his view on McAuliffe’s horsetrading. And now it appears we know why. The agreement strips Herring of his office’s ability to intervene on carry-permit reciprocity questions in the future. It furthermore requires Virginia to recognize carry permits from any state that recognizes Virginia’s, a forced reciprocity that will eliminate executive-branch interference entirely.
The other reason Republicans were reluctant to crow over this victory is that the deal has not yet gone through the state legislature. It could still be damaged by riders or amendments that could derail the entire bill and leave Virginia gun owners back at Herring’s status quo. The progressive alarm clearly intended to put pressure on Democrats to stop retreating and man the ramparts, but the political reality in Virginia is that they’re outmatched, surrounded, and lacking the support necessary to continue. Republicans have given them a dollop of face-saving cover, and they will almost certainly take it and leave Herring and his allies twisting in the wind over the loss.