Democratic gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) is under increasing pressure lately for his General Assembly votes on gun rights.
Both supporters of gun rights and gun control have criticized Deeds for his positions.
Now Virginia Tech victims and victims’ relatives are weighing in.
Omar Samaha, whose sister was among the 32 victims of the largest mass shooting in modern American history, and Colin Goddard, who survived the attack, take issue with Deeds’ gun votes.
In an email, the pair say they appreciate Deeds’ recent opposition to closing Virginia’s so-called gun show loophole, which allows the private sale of firearms between individuals without a mandatory background check. Deeds had opposed closing the loophole until after the 2007 shootings. He says appeals from Virginia Tech victims made him change his mind.
But Samaha and Goddard say they’re worried about other votes Deeds cast, namely support in the most recent legislative session for a bill sponsored Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta). The measure would have allowed concealed weapons into restaurants, provided the carrier had a valid permit and did not consume alcohol.
The bill passed, but Gov. Tim Kaine (D) vetoed it. The legislature didn’t have enough votes to override the veto. Deeds supported the override.
“We believe Senator Deeds is a good person,” Samaha and Goddard write. “And on many issues, we agree with him. But keeping the people we love safe is the single most important issue to us, and that’s why Senator Deeds won’t be getting our vote Tuesday. We urge other Virginians to vote on Tuesday for one of the other Democrats.”
For the record, Deeds has repeatedly offered an explanation for that vote. He says (correctly) that it is already legal for gun owners to openly carry firearms into restaurants. Of course, each establishment has the option to ban guns alltogether. Deeds’ point is this: if it’s okay for the average Joe to openly carry his gun on his belt, why should it be illegal for a concealed weapons permit holder to carry his gun on his belt, but wear a jacket over it?
Update: Our friends at NBC12 in Richmond report that McAuliffe’s campaign provided the list of reporter email addresses Samaha and Goddard used to distribute their press release.