Virginia Dem Preaches Gun Control in NRA's Backyard

Saturday, 02 Feb 2013 04:50 PM

By Nick Luciano

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Rep. Gerry Connolly’s views on gun control and his sharp criticism of the National Rifle Association wouldn’t be unusual for a Democrat except for the fact that the congressman’s Virginia district is home to the organization’s headquarters.

And some experts believe that criticism may make Connolly an even bigger target in his next re-election bid, according to The Hill.

Connolly supports closing the so-called gun-show loophole, reinstating the assault weapons ban, and banning guns in public facilities such as community centers and hospitals.

He described such changes as “reasonable measures that still allow for the preservation of the Second Amendment.”

He also authored a piece for The New York Times in December after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Conn where he took on the NRA directly. “I’m living proof that, especially in suburban swing districts, voters can and do reward politicians willing to put public safety above lock-step adherence to an extreme NRA agenda,” he wrote.

When asked about the possible stepped-up opposition from one of the nation’s most powerful organizations Connolly replied, “I don’t frame the issue as me vs. the NRA. My community has been affected by mentally ill people who’ve gotten a hold of guns and I think my constituents expect that prudent measures be taken to prevent these tragedies in the future.
I’ve won nine state and local elections in a row with an "F" rating from the NRA and got 61 percent of the vote in 2012.”

John McGlennon, chair of the Government Department at the College of William and Mary pointed out that Connolly’s district strongly supported President Obama's gun control proposals.

“The NRA won’t focus most of its efforts on members of Congress with urban and densely populated districts, but rather on ones who represent large rural populations,” McGlennon said.

But an associate professor of Government and Politics at George Mason University, Toni-Michelle Travis, countered “The fact that the NRA is headquartered in his district makes him extremely visible as someone who’s not supportive of the NRA’s policies.”

The NRA’s Director of Public Affairs, Andrew Arulanandam, was asked about whether the NRA would target Connolly specifically. “We monitor the voting records of every member of Congress, but don’t make extraordinary efforts on any one specific member,” Arulanandam said.

Connolly won his last re-election against challenger Keith Fimian by less than 1,000 votes and also held his Northern Virginia district in 2008 and 2010 though he has benefitted from redistricting. Some 62.3 percent of the voters in his 11th Congressional District supported President Obama in the November election.


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