RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican lawmakers have reached a deal that strengthens some gun control measures while reversing a policy that would have invalidated concealed handgun permits in Virginia held by residents of 25 other states.
McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said the governor is willing to walk back a new reciprocity policy set to be implemented by Attorney General Mark Herring in exchange for concessions on other measures. The deal is set to be announced Friday at a news conference.
GOP leaders have agreed to support a measure prohibiting people from carrying a firearm if they are subject to a permanent protective order for a domestic violence offense, according to House Speaker William J. Howell’s office. The policy has long been sought by McAuliffe and Democrats. Republicans have repeatedly rejected such measures in the past.
“Everyone gave something up,” Howell spokesman Matthew Moran said. “Everyone got something.”
Republicans have also agreed to require state police to be present at gun shows to perform voluntary background checks.
Herring said he’s encouraged to see both sides finally come together to address the issue of gun violence.
“If finally enforcing our concealed handgun reciprocity laws helps break the legislative logjam on efforts to expand background checks and force domestic abusers to turn over their guns, then I’m glad we could provide some momentum and I hope this is just the first step in enacting sensible gun safety measures,” he said in a statement.
Coy, the governor’s spokesman, called the proposed deal “balanced” and a milestone moment.
“This deal is a major advancement for public safety in Virginia,” said Coy. “That’s the governor’s priority.”
The proposal deal, which must still gain approval from the entire GOP-controlled General Assembly, marks a rare spot of compromise between McAuliffe and Republican leaders on a contentious social issue. The 2016 legislative session began with a war of words, as McAuliffe vowed to veto any gun rights legislation he found objectionable while Republicans promised to pass new laws aimed at buttressing gun rights.
Feelings over gun issues were also inflamed during last year’s legislative elections. Gun groups on both sides — and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group, in particular— spent heavily trying to influence a handful of key state Senate campaigns.
“This is a historic thing,” Coy said.
Philip Van Cleave, president of the pro-gun rights Virginia Citizens Defense League, said he would withhold judgment on the deal until he learns more details, but stressed that nothing is set in stone yet. The General Assembly must sign off on the measures.
“There’s a lot that can go wrong between now and the ink drying,” Van Cleave said. “It’s a positive sign, but we need to see the deal.”
A spokesman for the attorney general did not immediately return calls seeking comment. Herring’s move in December to revoke reciprocity agreements infuriated Republicans. Herring has said it was needed because the other states’ concealed weapon laws don’t meet Virginia’s standards,
Coy praised Herring’s move, but declined to say directly whether it was part of a broader Democratic strategy to force Republicans to negotiate.
“Without General Herring’s actions, this deal would not have been possible,” Coy said.
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