The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Kilgore: I guard right to bear arms; B1

GOP nominee boasts ‘A’ rating from the NRA

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore took dead aim at Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine’s record on guns Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call from the Boxtree Lodge in Vinton on Tuesday morning, Kilgore lambasted Kaine’s past statements on firearms, alongside Chuck Cunningham, director of federal affairs for the National Rifle Association.

The GOP candidate also introduced “Sportsmen for Kilgore,” a group Kilgore said is very different from the one announced by his opponent last week.

“Protecting the Second Amendment isn’t just some issue I stumbled on to during an election year,” he said. “I’ve spent my life guarding Virginians’ right to keep and bear arms.”

Among the major differences between the two candidates, Kilgore said, is the fact that he’s got an “A” rating from the NRA, and Tim Kaine was given an “F.”

Growing up in the Kilgore household meant knowing how to handle guns, the candidate said. A boy’s first firearm was almost a right of passage.

“Few moments in life can compare to the moment when your father gave you your first gun,” he said. “It was a moment of trust … and responsibility.”

While he doesn’t now keep firearms at his home in Henrico County, Kilgore said he has quite a collection of shotguns back on the family farm in Scott County.

“Where I’m from in Scott County, the NRA rating is kind of like the Good Housekeeping seal of approval,” he said.

His Democratic opponent “openly considered getting Richmond to sue gun manufacturers,” and “has actively and loudly stood on the side of gun control interests,” Kilgore said.

In an exclusive interview with The Northern Virginia Daily earlier this week, Kaine said he wasn’t bothered “overly much” by the NRA’s “F” rating, because the gun lobby has become a partisan organization.

He also said charges that he backed new restrictions on guns were baseless.

While Kaine did pay $6,600 out of his own pocket to help send a delegation to the 2000 Million Mom March, a rally for gun control in Washington, he said he did so because he was the mayor of a city with the second-highest homicide rate in the United States.

“I had a lot of sympathy for those” in the delegation, he said, which was made up largely of family members of those killed with handguns. “[Handgun control is] not my issue.”

Kaine also says he resisted serious pressure from other cities to sue gun makers.

Statements like that are just part of a makeover job, Kilgore’s campaign says, designed to show a liberal in a more conservative light.

“I like to think of Tim Kaine as the camouflage candidate,” Cunningham said. But Kaine isn’t trying to hide himself, he’s trying to hide his record, he said.

Kaine gives lip service to the Second Amendment, Cunningham said, but he’s actually supported by The Brady Campaign, a prominent gun control group.

“The ‘Brady Bunch’ endorsed Tim Kaine four years ago,” he said. “He got that endorsement the old-fashioned way. He earned it.”

Kilgore said his administration would study a number of changes to the state’s gun laws, including allowing students who want to hunt after school to keep locked, unloaded firearms locked in the trunk of their cars on school grounds.

“That was common a generation ago,” he said. “I do support the ability of individuals to leave them in their car trunks, locked. I think that’s reasonable.”

Kilgore said he’d consider legislation that would allow concealed carry permit holders to take their weapons into restaurants that sold alcohol, provided they didn’t drink while carrying.

He’d also look at rolling back the state’s limit on handgun purchases. At present, most people can only buy one handgun every 30 days.

The law was designed to prevent illegal gun dealers from buying in Virginia and selling elsewhere, but technology has made the gun market a very different place, Kilgore said.

“We were in a different age in the ’90s than we are now,” he said.
Instant background checks and stronger “straw man” laws make the idea of rolling back the law worth looking at, Kilgore said.

Election Day is Nov. 8.