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‘Elections matter’: Why Brady PAC is backing Mark Herring in the AG primary

mark herring
Mark Herring

Virginia Democrats won majorities in the House of Delegates and State Senate in 2019 on a platform heavy on gun violence prevention measures.

What we’ve seen from the General Assembly in the two legislative sessions since buttresses the case that elections matter.

“Once the legislature flipped the way that it did, they started passing gun violence prevention measures almost immediately. I rate every single one of those that took those votes just an A effort there. They certainly came in knowing that the right gun laws at the state level can save lives almost immediately. And they put that right to action,” said Brian Lemek, the executive director of Brady PAC, a gun violence prevention lobby group founded in 2018 as a counterweight to dark money PACs created by the gun industry.

Brady PAC on Monday announced its endorsement of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring in the Democratic Party primary.

Herring is a two-term attorney general who is facing an intraparty challenge from Norfolk Del. Jay Jones.

Lemek pointed to Herring’s consistent work to use the resources of the Office of Attorney General to move Virginia toward the gun violence prevention measures passed by legislators in 2020 and 2021 as the key reason for the group’s endorsement.

“He’s in an interesting spot, because he’s an attorney general with the NRA in his backyard, right? You imagine there’s a lot of additional pressure that comes with that, and he didn’t fold at any point. He honored his commitment, and we’re real proud to endorse him,” Lemek said.

There does now appear to be momentum at the federal level to break the logjam preventing more substantive gun violence prevention measures from being adopted there.

President Biden has signed a series of executive orders aimed at addressing the gun violence epidemic, and announced his intentions to strengthen the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which hasn’t even had a director since 2015.

What none of that does is address the missing pieces in terms of legislation instituting universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons that Congress has consistently failed to be able to deliver.

Biden’s support for legislation, and his actions at the executive level, is important, but it shouldn’t all be on the president’s shoulders, according to Lemek.

“Why should the President be responsible for that? It’s almost unfair to ask him to do that, when we’ve got Congress, and we’ve got these folks that are meant to legislate and make laws, and they’re just not, despite the will of the people, with over 90 percent of Americans supporting and encouraging expanding background checks. So that’s what we’re going to keep bumping up against that we have to fix,” Lemek said.

It is, unfortunately, unlikely that Congress will do anything yet again, which makes what happens at the state level, like in Virginia, so key.

“Everyone gets so caught up in the presidentials and these federal elections, when you and I know this is the real reality, that what impacts our lives the most is what’s happening at the local level,” Lemek said. “Vote local, please vote local, because that’s how you can get these kind of life-saving measures and other things that really help you and your community the most.

“Virginia really is doing a great job here. They are beacon for the rest of the country to follow,” Lemek said. “And we know that in ‘21 we have a really important election coming up as well. We have to hold those seats, because elections matter, and this could all flip and change again.”

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press news
augusta free press news