Our Second Amendment Rights

I am an unabashed supporter of the Second Amendment.  Like it or not, we have a Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, which the government must observe.

I think it's clear the Founding Fathers intended the Second Amendment as a guarantee for individual citizens to protect themselves and their families — and as a bulwark against the possibility of state tyranny.  I will never waver in my respect for that founding spirit of our country.  And I will work to ensure that Virginians continue to have the right to defend their families and enjoy our unique history of sporting traditions with as little governmental interference as possible.

Of course, no right is an unlimited right.  Even Justice Antonin Scalia admitted that when it came to the Second Amendment.  I support common-sense measures to encourage safe and responsible gun ownership.  For instance, I think training and certification should be absolutely required as a condition of receiving a concealed-carry permit.  I also believe that we ought to empower law-enforcement officials to prevent people on the terrorist watch list from purchasing a gun where there is probable cause to do so.  And we need to ban the manufacture and sale of any "faux auto" accessories, such as those used in the massacre in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Even these common-sense, widely bipartisan stances have put me in ill-standing with the NRA- but be that as it may, I will not waver from my belief that we don't have to sacrifice public safety to honor the Second Amendment.

I have seen firsthand the devastation that gun violence can wreak on a community.  I was in Christiansburg, Virginia, on April 16, 2007.  And I also had the honor of working personally with the Vice Chair of the Virginia Tech Incident Review Panel.  Many preventable errors, including breakdowns in our mental-health system, contributed to the tragedy that day.  It is vital that we continue searching for ways to keep our children safe — and keep guns out of the hands of terrorists and criminals (particularly in regards to domestic violence) — without violating our Constitutional rights.