In just under three weeks, every seat in Virginia’s General Assembly will be up for grabs. The stakes are high and many of the races tight. But the latest polling seems to say that most Virginians are prioritizing one issue over all others: gun control.

But what gun control looks like, and to whom, is still up for debate. After the mass shooting in Virginia Beach this past summer and a subsequent 90-minute special session in the legislature, little progress was made. The clean slate that awaits the next batch of legislators is a unique opportunity, only reinforced by the record amounts of money being spent in these hyper-local elections.

What do Virginians want to see their state do on guns, and how is that impacting the way they’ll vote?

Produced by Maura Currie

Guests

  • Tom Sherwood Resident Analyst; Contributing Writer for Washington City Paper; @tomsherwood
  • Laura Vozzella Reporter, Washington Post
  • Beth Fine Volunteer Field Organizer, Moms Demand Action
  • John Crump Virginia Director, Gun Owners of America

Transcript

  • 12:20:14

    KOJO NNAMDIWelcome back. In less than three weeks, Virginia will take to the polls and potentially upend the makeup of the state legislature. Every seat in the General Assembly is up for grabs, and the stakes are high for Democrats seeking to take control. A Washington Post poll from earlier this month showed that the issue at the top of most Virginians' minds is gun policy, particularly in communities like Virginia Beach, which was rocked by a mass shooting that left 12 people dead earlier this year.

  • 12:20:39

    KOJO NNAMDIVoters seem anxious to see something done about gun policy, but what, how much and for whom things should change is always up for debate. Joining us to break down the role of the gun debate in Virginia's elections is Tom Sherwood. He's our resident political analyst and a contributor to the Washington City Paper. Tom Sherwood, welcome.

  • 12:20:57

    TOM SHERWOODGood afternoon.

  • 12:20:58

    NNAMDIAlso with us in studio is Beth Fine. She is the Alexandria field coordinator for Moms Demand Action. Beth Fine, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:21:05

    BETH FINEHi.

  • 12:21:06

    NNAMDIJoining us by phone is John Crump, field director of Virginia's chapter of Gun Owners of America. John Crump, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:21:13

    JOHN CRUMPGood afternoon.

  • 12:21:14

    NNAMDIAnd joining us from studios at VPM is Laura Vozzella, reporter covering Virginia politics for the Washington Post. Laura, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:21:22

    LAURA VOZZELLASure thing.

  • 12:21:22

    NNAMDILaura, we mentioned that the Washington Post poll found that gun policy is a major concern for voters, but when Virginians say they're interested in gun policy, what do they mean?

  • 12:21:33

    VOZZELLAWell, it's interesting, because you'll see about 75 percent of the voters in that poll said that the issue's very important to them. And that's way up from a poll conducted last year during Senator Tim Kaine's reelection effort. Then it was about 9 percent of voters ranked that as a really high -- an issue of very high importance.

  • 12:21:55

    VOZZELLABut when you drill down into it, even though there are overwhelming majorities favoring certain increased restrictions on guns, when you drill down, it still splits about evenly between those voters' support for Democrats or Republicans. So, it's a little bit of a mixed message. I think it appears to be that the people who support gun control, but still say they want to vote for Republicans, are wary of how far Democrats would take them. Maybe they want background checks to be expanded or they want red flag laws, but they're worried that it won't stop there.

  • 12:22:43

    NNAMDITom Sherwood?

  • 12:22:44

    SHERWOODWell, they were given a good support for that when Beto O'Rourke, the presidential candidate, said yes, we are coming for your AK47s and AR15s. Does that get much play there in Richmond and around the state, when people say, see, we told you, this is exactly the slippery slope that we don't want to go down, and that's why we don't want to compromise.

  • 12:23:11

    VOZZELLAI just saw Delegate Nick Freitas gave a speech last month in Austin...

  • 12:23:17

    SHERWOOD(overlapping) Republican.

  • 12:23:18

    VOZZELLA...yes, and very much a gun rights Republican. And he invoked Beto O'Rourke in his speech in Austin just last month, saying how, if you want to come take my gun, you know, basically I dare you. Come and get it.

  • 12:23:34

    SHERWOODYeah, Beto said that he would ban these weapons, and then if they were seen in public, he would have them confiscated. Of course, that's been expanded to, we'll come into your home and take it, by some people who object to it. But is it at all being played -- do the Republicans or do Democrats there in Richmond understand that this could undercut them? Mayor Pete Buttigieg , he said that this is hurting the effort to get a ban of assault weapons. This is in the debate Tuesday night...

  • 12:24:02

    VOZZELLAThat's certainly not...

  • 12:24:02

    SHERWOOD...by the Democrat Party.

  • 12:24:04

    VOZZELLAI'm sorry. That's certainly not a proposal that Democrats are necessarily pushing very prominently. They're more interested in starting with some things that there's broad agreement on, you know, according to polls, where they say 80 percent of people support universal background checks. Meaning there's no loophole if you buy a gun at a gun show or online, that you would still have to go through the same background check. Or the red flag law, under which someone who is deemed to be a danger to himself or others could have his guns removed temporarily, you know, under a judge's order, you know, if he's a deemed a risk.

  • 12:24:53

    NNAMDIThe politics -- for just a second, Laura Vozzella, you've been following Virginia politics for a while. What are the races to watch as far as the gun debate is concerned? Certainly Virginia Beach, I guess.

  • 12:25:03

    VOZZELLAVirginia Beach, but also the Virginia -- sorry, the Richmond suburbs. There are several hot races for Senate and for House. And possibly in Northern Virginia and Prince William, there are freshman Democrats who won last time around who are at least getting a challenge from some Republicans who think they're vulnerable. But it's really playing out -- I live in the Richmond area, and I see it playing out every day in the Senate race that's in my district, where Siobhan Dunnavant, who's a -- she's a Republican incumbent, and she's being challenged by a freshman delegate who is trying to move up to the Senate.

  • 12:25:58

    VOZZELLAAnd we've seen that Senator Dunnavant, although she has never been -- she's never voted for gun control measures, but she's airing an ad now where she states that she supports the federal bump stock ban. There was a proposal for a state bump stock ban, and she voted against it. Now, her rationale is that you don't want a patchwork of these things around the country, but it still shows that she's interested in getting the notion out that she's reasonable on guns.

  • 12:26:30

    VOZZELLAAnd then she highlights some other things that are, you know, very noncontroversial for the NRA-type voter. And that's, for instance, she says she wants a tip line for people to call if they see that someone's a danger. But she's not talking about a red flag law, per se. And she even closes the ad by saying, as a mother, I want action. And that has really rankled some people with Moms Demand Action.

  • 12:27:01

    NNAMDI(overlapping) We'll hear about that in just one second. John Crump is the field director for Virginia's chapter of Gun Owners of America. He joins us by phone. John Crump, tell us about your organization. What kind of work are you doing in Virginia?

  • 12:27:17

    CRUMPOne of the things that we're doing in Virginia is we're trying to really get out the vote for the pro-freedom vote, pro-gun candidates out there. And also another thing that we want to do is dispel rumors. For example, you talked about no background checks for online purchases. That, right there, is totally false. Every gun sold online, you have to go through a background check. You have to sit through an FFL.

  • 12:27:43

    CRUMPSo, it's things like that that we try to educate people on and to let them know that what they are hearing is usually not the case. And we want to put the right information into the right people's hands so they can make an informed decision on their own.

  • 12:28:02

    NNAMDISo, you're saying that your organization is for universal background checks?

  • 12:28:06

    CRUMPNo. We are not for universal background checks, but what we are saying is that there's a lot of rhetoric. For example, like I said, like, online gun purchases go through a background check, but yet people say that they don't, which is totally false. So, we want to dispel what is the actual facts and what is rhetoric, for example. But no, we do not support background checks at all.

  • 12:28:35

    SHERWOODMr. Crump, Tom Sherwood. Thank you for being on the program. Your Gun Owners of America website, which I look at extensively, has a line that says: no compromised gun lobby. Would you object to -- would you like to see the online background check taken away? Because, as I understand it, every control is a slippery slope for your organization.

  • 12:29:01

    CRUMPThat is correct. The 4473 we view as artificial...

  • 12:29:05

    SHERWOODAnd what is that? What was...

  • 12:29:06

    CRUMP...and it really doesn't do any good. If you look at some of the latest shootings here, they were able to pass a background check. What we would like to see done is things that would actually make a difference. For example, over 90 percent of all mass shootings happen in gun-free zones.

  • 12:29:26

    NNAMDISo, what you'd like to see are more gun available, gun accessible zones. Joining us in studio also is Beth Fine, Alexandria field coordinator for Moms Demand Action, which you heard about earlier. What key issues are your organization focusing on, Beth Fine, and what's been your role on the ground in Northern Virginia?

  • 12:29:48

    FINEThank you for having me. I actually am the Arlington local group lead, just to, you know, clear that up. I got to make sure that -- yeah.

  • 12:29:55

    NNAMDINot Alexandria, Arlington.

  • 12:29:56

    FINEExactly. So, we -- because we don't have close races in Arlington, we have been working with other groups around the state. We are supporting their efforts. We're running canvases. We are doing phone banks, and doing whatever we need to do in order to see a gun sense majority for the next General Assembly session.

  • 12:30:18

    NNAMDII know you've done field work in Virginia Beach, as well. What's your read on where people's heads are there, almost five months after the shooting?

  • 12:30:26

    FINEI'm from there. I was born and raised in Virginia Beach, and I was actually down there for my niece's graduation when the shooting happened. I can tell you that this has hit their community in a very, very visceral way, that they are -- they care about this issue, I think, in a way -- because they've been woken up to it. Virginia Beach has changed a lot over the last couple of years in terms of, I think, what their interest is in voting on gun policy.

  • 12:31:01

    FINEBut I will say that right now, I was just back there this weekend, and a very close family member told me that even though he, nine times out of 10, votes Republican, he's going to be voting for Missy Cotter Smasal in the election, because Bill DeSteph shut down that session on July 9th.

  • 12:31:18

    SHERWOODWhat contest do you see either for the House of Delegates or the Senate in Virginia that you're particularly watching or on your highest must-do list? Do you have one or two?

  • 12:31:30

    FINERight now the most interesting races for me are the Missy race, because I am from there, and so it is personal for me. Missy Cotter Smasal is running for Senate against Bill DeSteph. I also am very interested in the Dan Helmer race out in Fairfax. I think he has a really, really good chance of winning. He has a stellar background, and I think he's do a lot of good for us. Also, Amanda Pohl, down in Chesterfield. I think that getting Amanda Chase out of there would be fabulous.

  • 12:32:11

    SHERWOODThe Republicans think that Chesterfield is changed. Let me ask you, because Kojo asked about the gun owners. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, you're, again, from Arlington. You're part of the Every Town for Gun Safety, which is the Michael Bloomberg organization. How does that work? What is your organization -- are you funded by Every Town? Are you raising separately? And how much money are you putting into this because there's a lot of money coming into the state from a variety of people, NRA and others. Tell me just a bit about Moms Demand for Action.

  • 12:32:43

    FINEOkay. Well, Every Town absolutely put a bunch of money into this race. They, if I'm not mistaken, committed 2.5 million to this race.

  • 12:32:53

    SHERWOODYes, to all the races in Virginia.

  • 12:32:57

    FINECorrect, correct. And, you know, they endorse 25 candidates. They've been focused on those. But Moms Demand Action is the -- we're all volunteers. So, we're out there, we're doing the hard work of knocking on doors. We've had -- I think by the time this election season is over, we'll have more than 100 canvases for the competitive races. And we have fund banks all the time.

  • 12:33:24

    SHERWOODOkay. Mr. Crump, are you there?

  • 12:33:27

    CRUMPYeah, I'm here.

  • 12:33:27

    SHERWOODOkay, thank you. As you know, the latest reporting shows from Virginia Public Access that the Democrats have raised a great deal more money than the Republicans. It's something like 9 million to 6.8 million. The NRA has brought in some money to the state, but not nearly as much as some of the antigun organizations. Are you being outflanked?

  • 12:33:52

    CRUMPI don't think so, because every penny that they spend to push antigun legislation is actually helping our side by showing what we are up against. It seems that gun owners respond to when they are being attacked, and gun owners right now definitely do feel like they're being attacked. So, the more that they spend, the more money -- the more I think it actually helps our side.

  • 12:34:19

    SHERWOODLet me ask you. Again, I looked at your website, and there are several references to the fact that you -- well, not fact, but the belief that you guys believe that owning a gun and possessing a gun and using a gun is a, quote, "God-given right." Why do you think that's a God-given right, as opposed to a nation of laws?

  • 12:34:41

    CRUMPEven if you look at the Constitution, it's in the Bill of Rights, which is endowed by our creator, which means God or whatever you want to believe in. We believe that it is a natural right to self-defense, and guns help you in self-defense. In fact, according to the CDC, guns are used more for self-defense than they are for like murder, for example, or whatnot. According to the CDC, between 500,000 and three million defensive firearms uses happen a year, when there's like 14,000 murders.

  • 12:35:22

    CRUMPAnd you can go and look at Gary Kleck, which is from the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, who did the most extensive research on this possible, nonpartisan. And he even found that it was more closer to 2.1 to 2.5 million. But by taking away guns, you are actually not making people safer. You are making people less safe.

  • 12:35:48

    SHERWOODBut why is it a God-given right?

  • 12:35:53

    CRUMPWhy is it a -- because we have a right to self-defense. It's human nature. It's human law that we have a right to self-defense. And guns facilitate that right.

  • 12:36:07

    NNAMDII want to get three comments from listeners. One, starting with Ron in Fairfax County, and then some opposing points of view. Here's Ron in Fairfax County. Ron, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:36:18

    RONGood morning. Thank you. I have two points. The second one's kind of a question. The first is, most reporters, you all are really smart people. You understand the facts. These things that people wave -- I'm a former soldier, they are not assault rifles. They are semiautomatic rifles with a pistol grip that are scary-looking. And we've got to figure out how you're going to try and control something that's just a physical thing that happens beyond the weapon, the pistol grip or the big flash suppressor, or what have you.

  • 12:36:52

    RONSo, they're semiautomatic. They are not an assault rifle. They're a look-alike. They're a wannabe, okay.

  • 12:36:58

    NNAMDIOkay.

  • 12:36:58

    RONThe second thing is, the way the Constitution's written, I don't understand why the states haven't started to exert more of their well-organized militia rights. In other words, if you're going to have a weapon, you are automatically part of the state militia, and then you are well-regulated. And these are the controls that we're going to put on you and your weapon. End of story.

  • 12:37:22

    NNAMDIThank you very much. Now, for the opposing points of view. First, here is Robert in Vienna. Robert, your turn.

  • 12:37:28

    ROBERTHi. Again, Robert McCaw from Vienna. You know, three years ago, a gunman fatally shot himself in a county building in Fairfax next to my son's Merryville preschool. And, at that moment, I realized there are not enough safety requirements for gun ownership. I am a gun owner for both safety and for sport, but as a Democrat, I'm supporting policies like universal background checks, red-flagging and even people meeting with their local police to get licensed to own a gun. We need background checks of all sorts.

  • 12:38:03

    NNAMDIOkay.

  • 12:38:03

    ROBERTThere's nothing -- at that moment when I thought there was a school shooting at my son's school, there's no policy I would not have supported. And I feel that way today, three years later.

  • 12:38:12

    NNAMDIThank you, Robert. Here now is Mike in Falls Church. Mike, your turn.

  • 12:38:16

    MIKEHi. I think there's a couple points that I've heard, but one of them being that, you know, there already is a universal background check anytime you go to a firearms dealer to purchase a gun. It does federal and local background checks, so...

  • 12:38:35

    NNAMDI(overlapping) Well, that may be if you go to a dealer, but Dana wrote us on Twitter: online auctions may or may not require background checks, depending on where you live. But go ahead, please.

  • 12:38:45

    MIKECorrect, but also...

  • 12:38:46

    CRUMPThat's not true.

  • 12:38:47

    MIKE...the ATF also has a -- go ahead, I'm sorry.

  • 12:38:49

    CRUMPThat's not true.

  • 12:38:51

    NNAMDIJohn Crump was saying that's not true?

  • 12:38:53

    CRUMPThat is totally false. Anytime you buy a gun that you buy online, whether it's from an auction site or not, it has to be shipped to an FFL.

  • 12:39:04

    SHERWOODA what? Shipped to a what?

  • 12:39:06

    CRUMPAn FFL, Federal Firearms Licensed dealer, like a Gun Stop. So, if you go like to gunbroker.com and you buy a gun via auction, it has to ship to a Federal Firearms Licensed...

  • 12:39:19

    NNAMDI(overlapping) Beth Fine, is that your understanding?

  • 12:39:22

    CRUMPThat's not my understanding, that's the law.

  • 12:39:24

    FINEI think that that is true in a lot of cases. I think what is missing here is that you're not dealing with person-to-person sales. So, if I were to sell you a gun right now, Kojo, out of the back of my car, there would be no requirement for a background check. And background checks -- we see in other states that have background checks on every sun sale, we see a major drop in things like law enforcement homicides. I want to say it's 53 percent drop in law enforcement homicides. So, those are the kinds of things that we want to see. If you can pass a background check, why wouldn't you do it?

  • 12:40:01

    SHERWOODHow many guns are sold online? I've been to the gun shows in Virginia and anyplace, and if guns are sold at gun shows, are those required to have a background check, Mr. Crump?

  • 12:40:14

    CRUMPEvery gun sold at a gun show through a dealer is required to have a background check.

  • 12:40:18

    SHERWOODWell, through a dealer, but all of those -- I talked to those folks there, and they're not dealers.

  • 12:40:22

    NNAMDISomebody says: if a private party sells a gun on an auction site to a buyer in the same state, they can sometimes ship it directly to the purchaser without performing a background check.

  • 12:40:32

    CRUMPThat's almost unheard of.

  • 12:40:34

    NNAMDIGot to take a short break. When we come back, we'll continue this conversation about gun policy in the upcoming Virginia elections. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:41:32

    NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking about the upcoming elections in Virginia and the role that gun policy may have on those elections. Laura Vozzella's a reporter covering Virginia politics for the Washington Post. Laura, earlier this summer, the legislature held a special session on gun control at Governor Northam's request. Remind us what happened there.

  • 12:42:36

    SHERWOODWell, they came together in July, and gaveled in, and 90 minutes later, they gaveled out. And that was a big surprise for the Democrats. The Republicans control both chambers very narrowly, and leadership on both sides decided to adjourn, send all of the bills to a crime commission for study. And they said they'd reconvene after the election. Democrats were not super-happy with that decision, although in some ways, I think they have turned that into something to message about in their campaign literature now, saying that they can paint the Republicans as not interested in discussing the issue.

  • 12:42:36

    SHERWOODLaura, I was talking to some Republicans in Northern Virginia, who said something similar, but said, you know, Republicans would've been better to let the Democrats come onto the House and Senate floors and push some of the most radical, that they call, issues on gun control. And that would've helped the Republicans, and that it was a mistake to short-circuit that special session. I wonder, Mr. Crump, if you have a view of that.

  • 12:43:01

    CRUMPI don't think it is, because the Republican voters and the pro-gun voters -- not just Republicans -- they know what's at stake and they know what the Democrats are pushing, and the antigun people are pushing. Gun Owners of America, we don't have a problem with Democrats. We have a problem with antigun politicians. Whether the antigun politician is Republican or Democrat, doesn't matter to us. We are solely focused on gun rights. That is the focus of our organization.

  • 12:43:32

    NNAMDISarah wrote to us on Twitter: Moms Demand Action is not antigun, rather in favor of gun safety. There are many gun owners in Moms Demand who volunteer their time to help promote safety measures and safe storage. Beth Fine?

  • 12:43:46

    FINEAbsolutely. We have people in Arlington, people all over the state that are gun owners. They own their guns, and it's important to them. One of our gun owners who's a leader in Crozet came and spoke at the crime commission you mentioned, after that field special session. And for us, really, we're looking for common ground. We're looking for a way to make our communities safer, to take care of our families and our friends. And we're doing that really out of a place of love and caring.

  • 12:44:22

    FINEThis is, for us, important in a much bigger sense than it is -- you know, it's not about wanting to take away anybody's rights. We're fine with people having firearms, especially if they're responsible, like they should be, and have them locked up separately from ammunition. That's who we deal with on a regular basis.

  • 12:44:42

    NNAMDIJohn Crump, I got the impression that you are not necessarily looking for common ground. You basically seem to distrust anyone who's for any type of gun control.

  • 12:44:52

    CRUMPWell, it's not that we distrust people from any type of gun control. We just believe that they're coming at it from the wrong angle. They come at it from an emotional standpoint, where, me personally, I like to come at it from a fact standpoint, what the reality is.

  • 12:45:11

    NNAMDIHere is Michael in Washington, D.C. Michael, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:45:16

    MICHAELI just wanted to say that there's been a lot of talk about taking away people's guns and whatnot. And maybe a less-divisive solution might be to have, like, quarterly mental health evaluations for people with assault weapons and gun owners in general, and maybe...

  • 12:45:45

    NNAMDI(overlapping) Well, I'm glad you brought up the mental health issue, because, Laura Vozzella, one of the things that you can tell us about is that a lot of people have been calling for red flag laws. And that is for people who are evaluated mentally in a certain way, that there should be a red flag, that those people should have their guns taken away. But you say the definition of a red flag law is changing, depending on who is talking about it. Tell us about that.

  • 12:46:10

    VOZZELLARight. The gun control groups have backed measures that would temporarily remove guns from the person who -- and they would have to -- you know, there are concerns about due process, here. But what the most recent proposal that's been before the General Assembly would require that the person contact law enforcement. They have to go before a judge. And if they say, oh, my gosh, my son seems, you know, suicidal or seems to be a danger to others, they could then remove the guns from him.

  • 12:46:50

    VOZZELLAI guess there have been examples of cases where family members have reached out to authorities and said, please take them away, and they can't, because there's no crime. But the -- I guess the person eventually would get a hearing, but, you know, there is a concern on the other side for due process.

  • 12:47:09

    SHERWOODYeah, the District of Columbia, in December of last year, passed the red flag law, and you have to go to superior court. And it can allow immediate action by authorities, but then there has to be a follow-up hearing, and all that. It's just not a free thing where a relative mad at somebody can just call up and say, hey, he's got guns. Go get him.

  • 12:47:29

    VOZZELLARight. And I think there's also a provision where if someone made a false report, you know, somebody's getting back at their neighbor or ex-wife or husband, whatnot that there could be a penalty if you made some sort of false report. Now, more recently, with some Republicans who have been concerned that they're out of step with the electorate, but they still want to stay firmly with the gun rights voters, they've supported something they call a red flag law. But, in those cases, it's really more of an extension of the existing involuntary commitment laws.

  • 12:48:07

    VOZZELLAAnd Tim Hugo in Northern Virginia is one who has backed a version along those lines. In that case what they're talking about is committing the person, locking the person up, not the gun. There has been some concern from the gun control folks that, in every case where someone poses a danger, it's not necessarily a diagnosable mental illness. It could be someone who's just enraged, because his wife left him, or whatever.

  • 12:48:41

    NNAMDIAnd it's not necessarily something for which they can be either committed or incarcerated.

  • 12:48:44

    VOZZELLARight.

  • 12:48:45

    SHERWOODAnd I can't imagine the bureaucracy of trying to have mental tests every three months for people. Mr. Crump, I'll go back to you for a moment. We asked Beth what campaigns she specifically was looking at. I don't remember that you said any specific ones. If you had to top your list of House delegate or Senate seats, is there one or two that you think people should really know about, from your point of view?

  • 12:49:08

    CRUMPYeah, Nick Freitas, his campaign, we are totally all in on him. He has a strong, strong gun rights background, and we are totally supporting him. But can I turn around to red flag laws, because I have -- the reason why we're against red flag laws, and I'm against red flag laws, is more of the due process. In Florida, there's a guy named John Carpenter who had his guns taken away, not because of anything that he did. It's because his name was similar to another person's name. And they sicked a red flag law against the other guy, and they thought it was him, and they took away his guns.

  • 12:49:51

    CRUMPRight now, it can take up to $10,000 to get your guns back if you are falsely accused of being a danger to yourself or others.

  • 12:50:01

    SHERWOODFor a mistake, you would not have the law at all? Because of a statistically probably a few mistakes? I realize for that one person, that's a horrible experience, but...

  • 12:50:08

    CRUMP(overlapping) No, no, it's more than just that. There's been examples in California and Maryland, for example. There was a gentleman that was killed because of a family dispute where they used a red flag law as, like, revenge. And he was shot and killed by police when they showed up at his house at 5:00 a.m. in the morning.

  • 12:50:30

    NNAMDIAnd here's a different perspective. Sarah in Washington, D.C. Sarah, we're almost out of time, but go ahead, please.

  • 12:50:36

    SARAHHi. As you said, I'm calling from Washington, D.C., where most of the guns used in crimes come from Virginia. And I would really like to see Democrats and Republicans show more courage in banning assault rifles, which nobody needs.

  • 12:50:58

    NNAMDIOkay. I'm glad you went to that, because, John Crump, what would you tell a voter who falls somewhere in the middle? Maybe that person is a gun owner, but they're not opposed to an assault weapons ban?

  • 12:51:10

    CRUMPAssault rifle is already banned. Assault rifle is an automatic machine gun. Unless you have one from 1984 and you paid $20,000 for it, you're not going to have an assault rifle. Assault weapon is a made-up term for a semiautomatic rifle...

  • 12:51:27

    NNAMDIAs another caller said.

  • 12:51:28

    CRUMP...that's been around since -- the AR15 has been around since 1955.

  • 12:51:34

    SHERWOOD(overlapping) Well, what about semiautomatic weapons? I understand the distinction, but there are semiautomatic weapons. In Vermont, you know, there's a court case...

  • 12:51:40

    CRUMPThat's been around...

  • 12:51:43

    NNAMDISomebody says, I'm a gun owner, but I'm opposed to semiautomatic weapons. What do you say to that person?

  • 12:51:47

    CRUMPI'd say they are misinformed, because right now, for example, rifles, in the last year, we have statistics for rifles of all kinds, not only semiautomatic...

  • 12:51:58

    NNAMDIWe're out of time. Very quickly, I need to ask Beth the same question.

  • 12:52:00

    CRUMPNo, hold on, hold on, hold on, they've been used 374 times. You are more likely to be killed by a person's foot, which is...

  • 12:52:12

    NNAMDIThan by an assault weapon. Beth, same question to you. What would you want to tell a voter who's not sure where they stand on an assault weapons ban?

  • 12:52:19

    FINEI'm more interested, honestly, in...

  • 12:52:21

    NNAMDI(overlapping) Or semiautomatic weapons ban.

  • 12:52:22

    FINERight, right. Well, I feel -- I mean, a pistol that you pull the trigger once and you get -- you know, one bullet leaves the chamber, that's a semiautomatic weapon. Not getting into the weeds of which firearm we're talking about, if you have background checks on every gun sale and you have red flag laws at your disposal, you have a much safer Commonwealth, and you have a much safer D.C. and a much safer New York and New Jersey, because we're on the Iron Pipeline. People come down here because we have lax laws. If we can shut these loopholes, we're going to make everybody safer.

  • 12:53:01

    SHERWOODAnd large capacity ammunition is one big issue.

  • 12:53:03

    FINEThat would be a -- that's true, and that would be a great way to shut down this pipeline, so that we can keep people safer.

  • 12:53:10

    NNAMDIWell, elections are coming up soon, and I know, Laura Vozzella, you'll be covering them. Laura, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:53:15

    VOZZELLASure thing.

  • 12:53:16

    NNAMDIJohn Crump, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:53:18

    CRUMPThank you so much. It was fun.

  • 12:53:19

    NNAMDIBeth Fine, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:53:21

    FINEThank you.

  • 12:53:21

    NNAMDIAnd Tom Sherwood, always a pleasure.

  • 12:53:23

    SHERWOODThank you.

  • 12:53:24

    NNAMDIThis installment of our Virginia Vote series was produced by Maura Currie, and our update on the refugee camp was produced by Laura Spitalniak. Coming up tomorrow, it's pumpkin spice and everything, well, else. The hosts of Dish City and local food entrepreneurs will join us to talk about fall food trends. That all starts tomorrow, at noon. Until then, go Nats, to the World Series. Thank you for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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