Residents of Virginia’s 10th Senate District have begun to see a large number of negative mailers and TV commercials that falsely label Republican candidate Glen Sturtevant an extremist on guns. These ads were authorized by Dan Gecker for Senate, and paid for by billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund.
Gecker is Bought
Let the money angle sink in for a moment. This $700,000 cash dump is as much money as Glen Sturtevant’s campaign has raised in total ($772,000), and represents 1/3 of total contributions to this entire election. Gecker’s campaign alone has raised 1.5x more money than Sturtevant’s. An outside billionaire dumping a sum of money that breaks state election records is trying to scare us with a $700,000 ad that (falsely) states that the NRA is “funding” Sturtevant’s candidacy when the NRA has given $0 to Sturtevant (and just $38,100 to all others combined) and spent just $55,000 on ads supporting Sturtevant. $700,000 to $55,000, and who are we supposed to believe is bought and sold?
The fact about special interests is that Dan Gecker’s campaign is 40% funded by developers (Gecker is a developer) with another 12% funded by single-issue groups, and now has NY billionaires breaking state spending records on his behalf; his campaign is entirely dependent upon special interests to a degree that is shocking in its implications on his integrity as a possible Senator.
Gecker Offers No Solutions
Gecker has begun morbidly dragging around the parents of the murdered Virginia reporter Allison Parker to candidate forums where they aren’t able to speak in the first place, where they just sit like props waiting for Gecker to mention that they’re there. In the ad, her father, Andy Parker, says that “politicians’ condolences aren’t enough” after the narrator claims that Glen Sturtevant will “make Virginia families less safe.”
However, there doesn’t seem to be much differentce between Gecker and Sturtevant on guns, except Gecker’s willingness/necessity to pander. In a candidate forum hosted by the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce (10/13 at John Tyler Community College) Gecker said that the so-called commonsense reforms being mentioned by Governor McAuliffe around mental health, domestic violence, and background checks are “not enough” and that we “must go farther.” But a week later at the Virginia21 forum at VCU (10/20) Gecker said no more than that we need to put “commonsense reforms” in place.
What is a commonsense reform? Gecker has failed to name a single position on any actual policy or to propose any new policies. At VCU, he said that we need to prohibit the subjects of protective orders from possessing firearms; Virginia law already prohibits such (18.2-308.1:4). Is Dan Gecker ignorant of the law he wants to reform, or does he think voters are ignorant?
Gecker has stated at both the JTCC and VCU forums that perpetrators of domestic violence should be prohibited from possessing firearms. Virginia law already >prohibits all convicted felons from possessing guns. This is simple pandering. At the third conviction, domestic violence becomes a Class 6 felony, which makes it illegal for that person to possess a firearm. At the second conviction, stalking is also a Class 6 felony. Currently, first and second offense assault and battery on a family member is a Class 1 misdemeanor, the same as reckless driving. If Virginia legislators want to protect victims of domestic violence from guns, it seems to me that the path of least resistance is to reclassify all domestic violence as a felony rather than carrying the issue to extreme partisan territory where they know it will stall. But reform is not the point, riling up the base in an election year is the point. (And while VA Democrats make this a women’s issue, here we note that more than 200 empirical studies find that heterosexual females assault their male partners at rates equal to- or greater than men.)
On October 21st, six Virginia public safety officers released a statement condemning this false attack ad, which was authorized by Gecker’s campaign. They include sheriffs, Commonwealth Attorneys, and a former VA Attorney General and Secretary of Public Safety.
To great fanfare, last week Governor McAuliffe issued an executive order which does nothing new about guns except direct Attorney General Mark Herring to prosecute existing laws, and bans guns from state buildings.
Why did Democrat Herring need an executive order to do his job if gun violence is a priority for Democrats?
The Richmond Times-Dispatch has reported that Sturtevant’s position on gun violence is the same as these Democrats’ solution: “[Sturtevant] said he would support ‘funding for law enforcement and public safety to enforce state and federal gun laws,’ as well as to treat people with mental illness more effectively in order to prevent potential acts of violence.”
In his own peevish statement supporting Gecker, A.G. Herring repeated the same squishy lines about “commonsense policies,” listing the same items Gecker has mentioned, and which are already Virginia law: “background checks for gun sales … and keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.”
Gecker says we should prohibit the subjects of protective orders from owning guns. Virginia law already prohibits that. Gecker says we should prohibit ownership by domestic violence perpetrators. Virginia law already makes most domestic violence crimes felonies, and prohibits gun possession by convicted felons. Gecker says that we should prohibit the mentally ill from owning guns. Virginia law already prohibits gun possession by the mentally ill, including involuntarily committed persons, persons acquitted for insanity, and persons deemed mentally incapacitated.
Virginia Already Has Commonsense Laws
Democrats statewide continue to say we need “commonsense” reforms without naming any that aren’t already law. Virginia already has a host of other prohibitions on ownership:
– Persons convicted of certain drug offenses, persons convicted of rape, persons convicted of robbery with a firearm, persons convicted of kidnapping; illegal aliens; and anyone under the age of 18 (long guns) or 21 (pistols).
– Virginia law already requires registration of certain firearms with large capacity magazines and machine guns. Virginia law already prohibits the possession of certain firearms by anyone.
– Virginia law already prohibits firearms in courthouses; public, private, and religious schools, their grounds and facilities, and buses; certain colleges; houses of worship; the capitol building and General Assembly; airport terminals; and allows private property owners to prohibit carry on their property.
– Project Exile/Virginia Exile already mandates 5 years in prison for illegal possession of a firearm.
These are all commonsense laws, we already have them, and I am perfectly happy to have these laws. Sturtevant has made no negative statement regarding expanding background checks to private sales (which I would be happy to see done).
Gecker is Disingenuous
State Democrats are intentionally obtuse because they know that they cannot win on even more restrictions, contrary to the statement by Everytown for Gun Safety President John Feinblatt that “The political calculus has changed, and candidates are now running on their support for gun safety, instead of running away from the issue.”
When Gecker said on October 13 that we must go beyond commonsense reforms, he was speaking from his intentions. When he scaled back a week later and repeated the party line, he showed that he wised-up as the money started rolling in. Dan Gecker can’t pass legislation that already exists; as a Senator beholden to $700,000 from New York, he will go further.