The National Rifle Association will support Republican Bob McDonnell for governor this year, reversing its support of Democrat Creigh Deeds in the pair’s 2005 race for state attorney general.
“Bob McDonnell has been steadfast and forthright in his support of gun rights,” said Chris Cox, chairman of the NRA’s Political Victory Fund, in a conference call with reporters Monday.
Cox cited McDonnell’s work as attorney general as a main driver behind the endorsement. But he said the decision also reflects on Deeds.
“Gun owners were shocked and disappointed when Creigh flip-flopped, Cox said referring to Deeds’ position on Virginia’s so-called gun show loophole.
Deeds had previously opposed restrictions that would require background checks on all firearms transactions, even those between private individuals.
After the mass shootings at Virginia Tech, Deeds switched his position. He now supports efforts to require background checks on most gun sales.
McDonnell said although he supports tough penalties for people who use guns to commit crimes, he also supports folks who want to use firearms for “any lawful purpose.”
Although he wouldn’t go into specifics, Cox said the NRA would make sure the organization’s roughly 120,000 Virginia members know that the group backs McDonnell.
“We’re going to be there between now and Election Day,” Cox said.