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The Reload - McAuliffe in 2019: Gun Shows ‘Worst Thing We Have,’ Tried to Create Hidden Legal Liability for Private Gun Sellers

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Terry McAuliffe at George Mason University on March 18th, 2019 / Screenshot

McAuliffe in 2019: Gun Shows ‘Worst Thing We Have,’ Tried to Create Hidden Legal Liability for Private Gun Sellers
By Stephen Gutowski

During a little-noticed symposium, Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe slammed gun shows and revealed he hoped a 2016 compromise bill would put private gun sellers at legal risk.

The current gubernatorial candidate and former governor called gun shows the "worst thing we have" during a 2019 lecture at Geroge Mason University reviewed by The Reload. He decided the inability of the state to pass a law requiring all gun sales to require a background check and claimed private sellers advertised the lack of checks on "big signs' at the shows.

"The worst thing we have, folks, are these gun shows," McAuliffe told the audience at the school's Haynes Lecture Series on March 18th, 2019. "Has anyone ever been to a gun show? They're unbelievable, aren't they? I'm talking thousands of people. Hundreds of tables. Hundreds, as far as the eye can see, with any kind of gun you want to buy, with big signs, 'we don't do background checks.' So, you can go any one of these in Virginia and buy any gun you want today, folks. Today, you could do this."

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He went on to say he had an ulterior goal while negotiating a 2016 deal with Virginia Republicans to expand recognition of out-of-state gun-carry permits while stationing state police at gun shows to allow anyone to conduct a background check during a sale. In addition to helping private gun sellers do voluntary checks, he said he hoped the option would create a hidden legal liability for those who decided not to take advantage of the offering.

"My long-term thinking always was, at least they're there, and if you want to buy a gun and the guy says, 'you want to get a background check,' we now can physically do it. You couldn't do it before," McAuliffe said. "But I'm thinking, someone goes, buys a gun, commits a mass torturous act, you had the ability to get a background check, but you didn't get one... might be a legal theory we could use down the road on a tort claim. I was just trying to think."

Video of the event has received only 452 views on YouTube since it was posted two-and-a-half years ago.

To this point, gun control has taken a back seat to other issues in the campaign, with the candidates focusing on other areas, including vaccine mandates and school re-opening policies. Republican Glenn Youngkin has even gone so far as not to fill out gun-rights groups' surveys and has not received endorsements from the Virginia Citizens Defense League or the NRA. Youngkin's campaign has stood by the decision, citing the surveys as a waste of time, even as a liberal dark money group is attempting to use the lack of endorsements to discourage voters in Republican areas from turning out.

The two candidates are starkly divergent on guns, though, with McAuliffe generally supporting more restrictions while Youngkin opposes them. Democrats in the state, with McAuliffe's support, passed a package of gun-control bills last year that included a requirement all private gun sales also be subject to a background check. But, they ultimately failed to get an "assault weapons" ban through the statehouse. McAuliffe is still pushing for the ban, which would outlaw the sale of the popular AR-15 and other guns, while Youngkin's campaign told The Reload last month he opposes the policy.

The election's outcome will likely significantly impact which guns Virginians can buy and where they can carry them.

Click here to read the full piece.

Edited by Charlie T Waite
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  • Charlie T Waite changed the title to The Reload - McAuliffe in 2019: Gun Shows ‘Worst Thing We Have,’ Tried to Create Hidden Legal Liability for Private Gun Sellers

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