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With Republicans in Washington Considering Gun Control, Will the Virginia GOP Follow Suit?

Are Republicans in Virginia on the verge of moving their position on gun control?

Republicans in Virginia are in a fix. Just last month, they shut down a special session on gun control without taking any action to limit the availability of firearms. Now Republicans in Washington are talking about possibly making concessions on background checks and red-flag laws. So are Republicans in Virginia about to finally relent and move on this issue?

Democratic strategist Ben Tribbett says it’s possible. 

“I think the Republicans are starting to come to the table because they realize that the public overwhelmingly supports these things, particularly in suburban areas where Democrats have been picking up seats in droves the last few cycles,” Tribbett says.

Those suburban districts are about to go to the polls, and every seat in the General Assembly will be on the ballot this year. That means some of those suburban Republicans might be thinking about flipping on the issue of gun control.

Philip Van Cleve at the Virginia Citizens Defense League says he would tell any Republican who considers moving on this issue that he or she will lose the election. 

“The people he’s worried about trying to get to vote for him aren’t going to vote for him," Van Cleve explains. "And he will lose his base of gun owners if he starts pushing gun control. We don’t want any more restrictions on the good people because a bad person does something.”

Democrats in Virginia have been pushing for expanded background checks and red-flag laws for years. But Republicans have been united in their opposition, at least until now – preventing those bills from even reaching the House floor for a recorded vote.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.