Virginia’s political pause did not last long.
While the state’s newly minted Republican and Democratic nominees for governor called off campaign plans for the day, the shooting soon became a talking point for gun control on the left and an opportunity for sniping on the right.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said his advocacy for greater gun control was “not for today’s discussion,” but he mentioned his stance in response to questions at a gathering with reporters.
When a reporter asked the governor whether more needed to be done to protect politicians, McAuliffe said: “I think we need to do more to protect all of our citizens. I have long advocated — this is not what today is about, but there are too many guns on the street. We lose 93 million Americans a day to gun violence.”
He later corrected himself; he meant to say 93 Americans a day.
“I’ve long talked about this — background checks, shutting down gun show loopholes,” he continued.
“That’s not for today’s discussion. But it’s not just about politicians. We worry about this every day for all of our citizens.”
A reporter challenged McAuliffe, saying that if this was not the day for it, “why are you bringing it up?”
McAuliffe, noting the recent shooting death of a state trooper in Richmond, said the subject is always front-and-center for him.
“I talk about this every single day, this is a very serious issue,” he said. “We just buried one of our great state troopers, a special agent with a wife and three young children. Needless. Senseless.”
McAuliffe’s comments drew fire from Katie Pavlich, a Fox News contributor, and John Whitbeck, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia.
“And of course, Governor Terry McAuliffe goes for more gun control as Republicans attacked say they only had baseball bats 2 defend selves,” Pavlich tweeted.
Whitbeck retweeted Pavlich and took a swipe at McAuliffe: “Disgusting. Not a day for politics.”