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Attorney general race heats up over gun raffle

mark herringIn Blacksburg this weekend, the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) will be raffling off the same gun model used in the Virginia Tech massacre that claimed the lives of 33 students and faculty just down the street in April 2007. Speaking to a group of Virginia’s Commonwealth Attorneys Friday morning, Democratic nominee for attorney general Mark Herring criticized Republican nominee Mark Obenshain for supporting this group and their actions.

“It’s revealing that this very weekend in Blacksburg Virginia, the Virginia Citizens Defense League is holding an event just a few minutes from the location of the Virginia Tech gun massacre that claimed the lives of 33 students and faculty. It’s almost impossible to imagine the insensitivity and arrogance of this group, which prides itself on being more radical than the National Rifle Association. But there’s more.  They’re going to hold a gun raffle. And not just any gun, but a Glock 19, the very same make and model of the gun used in the Virginia Tech shooting,” Herring said this morning.

“So there is a clear contrast between Senator Obenshain and me.  He stands with the gun auction in Blacksburg today, and I stand for saying enough is enough:  we’ve got to keep guns out of the hands of the criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.”

Senator Herring’s full remarks are below.

Prior to the Republican convention, VCDL endorsed tea party Republican Mark Obenshain, who warmly embraced the radical gun group’s endorsement:

“I’m excited to be able to announce that I have been endorsed by the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL)!” Obenshain wrote and added, “Earlier this year, I successfully carried legislation ensuring confidentiality for concealed carry permit holders, and in previous years, I patroned legislation that would have required Virginia to recognize concealed carry permits from all other states and I co-patroned legislation to repeal the nonsensical restaurant ban for concealed carry permit holders.

In clear contrast, Herring notes that Obenshain is out of touch with mainstream Virginia and believes in taking sensible measures that could prevent tragedies like Virginia Tech from happening in the first place.

“I support common sense solutions to prevent gun violence,” Herring added. “I support universal background checks, banning assault weapons, repealing legislation to allow guns in bars and reinstating the one gun a month law. Additionally, we need to do more to improve mental health screenings and treatment. These are common sense solutions that most Virginians agree with,” says Mark Herring.

Mark Obenshain has an extreme record on guns. In the Senate, Obenshain:

  • Voted to allow guns in bars (SB334, 2010)
  • Voted for the repeal of the one hand gun a month law (SB323, 2012)
  • Voted to allow guns in child day care centers (SB1364, 2007)
  • Voted against closing the gun show loophole (SB109, 2008)

VCDL, which prides itself on being more radical than the National Rifle Association (NRA) with stickers that say “guns save lives,” supports allowing guns on school grounds, on college campuses, in libraries and government facilities and in bars. They oppose closing the gun show loophole and universal background checks. Mark Obenshain agrees, saying, “That’s why VCDL supports me, and that’s why I’m proud to be their endorsed candidate for Attorney General of Virginia.”

VCDL will have a booth at the 33rd Steppin’ Out festival in downtown Blacksburg. The event takes place from August 2-3, 2013.

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Prepared statements for Mark Herring:

The weekend after the primary, Senator Obenshain and I had our first debate here in Virginia Beach. And during that debate we reveled some pretty stark differences between him and me:

Seantor Obenshain would take a woman’s right to choose away. I would defend Virginia’s women’s right to make their own decisions.

Senator Obenshain would restrict access to common forms of contraception; I believe he has no place in any of those personal health decisions.

And Senator Obenshain voted against the landmark bipartisan Transportation bill, put together by the Governor and Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly.  Senator Obenshain joined Attorney General Cuccinelli and opposed it.  I joined the Governor, Lt. Govenor Bolling, Democrats, and Republican legislators to support it.

This morning, because of our concern for public safety, I’d like to discuss another fundamental difference between Senator Obenshain and myself.

It’s revealing that this very weekend, Blacksburg Virginia, the Virginia Citizens Defense League is holding an event just a few minutes from the location of the Virginia Tech gun massacre that claimed the lives of 33 students and faculty. It’s almost impossible to imagine the insensitivity and arrogance of this group, which prides itself on being more radical than the National Rifle Association. But there’s more.  They’re going to hold a gun raffle. And not just any gun, but a Glock 19, the very same make and model of the gun used in the Virginia Tech shooting.

The members of this group wear stickers that say:  guns save lives.

They oppose universal background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.

This group supports legislation that allows people to bring guns into bars.

They oppose every sensible gun law that both respects the rights of gun owners and helps protect the public from gun violence. In the Virginia they want, we’ll have more and more guns, and won’t be able to keep them out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.

My opponent, Senator Mark Obenshain, supports their positions. He opposes universal background checks and sponsored legislation to allow guns in bars.

Senator Obenshain is proud of his endorsement by the Virginia Citizens Defense League. He smiles while wearing his sticker saying “guns save lives.”

I believe that we can and must do something to keep guns out of the hands of people who are criminals or are too sick to be trusted with them.   All of you in this room are entrusted with protecting Virginians from criminals; prosecuting those who break the law; punishing and removing the violent from our streets… and you do it very well.

We all support the legal right to bear arms.   But we have to take measures, sensible measures that prevent some crimes from happening in the first place.

So there is a clear contrast, between Senator Obenshain and me.  He stands with the gun auction in Blacksburg today, and I stand for saying enough is enough:  we’ve got to keep guns out of the hands of the criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.

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