On WTOP, McDonnell repeated the idea that emotions would have to subside before the country could fully grapple with all of the issues surrounding the attack. But he also sounded content with Virginia’s existing gun-control laws.
The WTOP host asked McDonnell whether he was open to restricting large ammunition clips that allow shooters to “rattle off hundreds of shots.”
“I think reasonable restrictions consistent with the Second Amendment has been what we’ve done in Virginia,” McDonnell responded. “We’ve regulated the time, place and manner of speech, and the same thing with firearms, which made sense. And that’s why Virginia’s crime rate, even though we support the Second Amendment strongly, is relatively low compared to most states. ... And so, we’ve taken that approach: We punish people harshly when they commit crimes, but we don’t favor a lot of prior restraints.”
McDonnell did not completely dismiss the idea of restricting large ammunition clips, but he said he thought the problem was rooted in mental illness and a culture that does not value life.
“The multiple clip issue is one that’s been around for a while,” he said. “It’s certainly a discussion we can have. But if you focus the whole issue on a clip or a particular type of gun, you completely miss the point of issues on mental health, which was the focus for governor [Timothy] Kaine and I in the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech, and this broader discussion about personal responsibility and community responsibility for helping to raise people who don’t embrace a culture of violence.”
He added: “People that choose to commit crimes are going to find the means in some way.”
Friday’s shooting has prompted some strong gun-rights supporters to shift their positions. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who like McDonnell has an A rating from the National Rifle Association, said in Richmond Monday that he would push for “reasonable restrictions,” particularly on assault weapons.
Limiting gun rights would require an about-face by the General Assembly, which lately has been more inclined to loosen restrictions on firearms. Legislators repealed a 19-year-old law that had limited handgun purchases to one a month. They also stripped localities of the right to require fingerprints from people applying for concealed handgun permits.