General Assembly Addresses Charter Schools and Gun Rights
Governor McDonnell’s Charter School proposals are well on their way to passage but Virginia won’t be getting any of the Federal incentive dollars he has been pushing for any time soon, and a Senate sub committee has effectively killed several bills that would have expanded the rights of gun owners.
Yesterday the Senate Health and Education Committee approved Governor McDonnell’s education reform package that would help to streamline the application process for charter schools. The bill would allow local school boards to review the school’s application but would give final approval to the locality. The bill has already passed the full House of Delegates.
Just hours later, the Governor’s administration received word that Virginia will receive none of the Federal Race to the Top dollars in phase 1 of the grant program. Virginia will have an opportunity to apply for phase 2 of these funds in the fall.
Tucker Martin, Governor McDonnell’s Communications Director, said he was not surprised by the grant decision.
Martin: It was probably a little bit predictable. Virginia does not have a very strong charter law. Over the past ten years a lot of other states have made a lot of great progress as far as bringing charters into their borders, we haven’t. So it’s understandable that Virginia would not make the cut in phase one. The point is this is an impetus for us to get this legislation passed. The feds want to see that states are taking the proper steps to be innovative, to be creative, to make it easier for charters to come within their borders. So if anything, this is just a further sign that Virginia needs to do a better job of bringing innovation into the public education system.
Also yesterday, a Senate Sub Committee has effectively killed 11 bills that would loosen restrictions on gun owners. The meeting drew a large crowd of citizens on both sides of the issue.
Governor McDonnell expressed his disappointment that the bills would not be heard before the full committee, saying that giving the subcommittees the authority to kill bills put too much power in the hands of a few individuals.
Phillip Van Cleve is the President of the Virginia Citizens Defense League. He says that the move by the Democratic led Senate could hurt the party in November.
Van Cleve: A lot of what you read in the press is the Democrats are headed for a Tsunami in the next election if certain things continue to go the way they’re going in general. And it was interesting that during a time when people were feeling that way that they would now aggravate all of the gun owners. And I mean really aggravate them. It’s not just a minor little thing. They’re really angry about this. I think that may show up at the polling place.
Van Cleve he said he was hoping that Virginia’s One Gun Per Month law would be repealed.
Van Cleve: It doesn’t do anything. Criminals aren’t obeying that law anyhow. The one that I can think of that may have followed that law was Cho before he did the Virginia Tech murders. He ordered one gun, which was a 22 that he didn’t use and then he did a background check and waited the full 30 days to get his other gun, which he went through another background check. And then he went off and killed everybody. So that 30 days was a joke. With modern technology and everything else and the fact that the criminals aren’t going to be able to walk into a dealer and say give me a box of glocs. That isn’t going to happen. It’s a ridiculous argument that the other side has.
Andrew Goddard is the father of one of the victims of the 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre. He says he strongly disagrees with Van Cleve’s logic.
Goddard: Actually there’s very little to stop anybody from getting a gun. There are so many ways, there are so many holes in the laws, and so many weaknesses in the laws and every year the few laws that are left get weakened or different exemptions added to them and then after a while, the people that have been adding all of the exemptions come in here and say, oh look, there’s so many exemptions to this law, it doesn’t do anything any more, lets get rid of it. It’s like it’s a surprise to them but of course it’s not a surprise they’re doing it deliberately. They don’t want to attack the wall, because they would be rebuffed, but they can sneak up and pull a brick out, and pull a brick out, and pull a brick out every year, and they’re patient, and they can pull a little brick out and a brick out here and a brick out there until the whole wall collapses of it’s own. And that’s a sneaky way of doing things
I think most Virginians want to be protected by some form of laws. They want to be protected by background checks. They want people to have to go through proper training before they can carry concealed. We’re giving somebody a concealed carry permit, means you can carry a gun in public, you can then become judge jury and executioner. This is not just a piece of paper. It doesn’t give them the right to take a life but it gives them the means to take a life. We’ve been slowly, slowly making it less and less difficult to get one of those until now you might as well go put a quarter in a machine and pull one out, because a judge can’t make any decision, you don’t have to have training, the background checks are failing because you can get people to pass the background check for a concealed permit if you go to buy a gun and you fail the Federal Background Check.
While this should effectively kill the repeal of the One Gun a Month law and other expansions of gun rights, several gun bills will make it to the Governor’s desk. Both Houses have approved bills that would allow concealed carry permit holders to bring guns into restaurants and bars, provided the gun owners don’t drink. Also both houses have approved bills that would allow gun owners to keep a handgun locked in a glove compartment…without a concealed carry permit.
Craig Carper, WCVE News, Capitol Square.