RICHMOND — Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and her husband, Mark Kelly, on Tuesday will bring their national campaign for stricter gun laws to Virginia.
The move comes about a month after Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) signed into law a package of gun bills resulting from a compromise with Republican lawmakers and the National Rifle Association.
The deal cost McAuliffe support of some of his strongest allies in the fight for gun control, but Giffords and Kelly, a Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut, have not taken a public position on it.
Americans for Responsible Solutions — the group they formed after Giffords was seriously wounded in a 2011 shooting in Tucson that killed six people — helped fund McAuliffe’s failed attempt last year to win control of the state Senate.
On Tuesday, Giffords and Kelly will introduce a panel of advocates from law enforcement, faith, domestic violence prevention and mental health communities, a strategy they also followed in New Hampshire, Minnesota, Oregon, and — as of Monday — Delaware.
They will push for mandatory background checks at gun shows, which are not currently required in Virginia.
In the deal struck during the recent legislative session, gun rights supporters agreed to one concession in this area — to require state police at all gun shows to perform the checks but only if buyers and sellers agree.
Lawmakers also agreed to tighten restrictions on domestic abusers in exchange for a big prize for the gun rights community: nearly universal recognition in Virginia of concealed-carry handgun permits from around the country.
The voluntary nature of the background checks law makes it too weak for gun control groups such as Everytown for Gun Safety, the group backed by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg that strongly rebuked McAuliffe for making the deal.
Another critic of the deal is Lori Haas, whose daughter was shot and injured in the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.
Haas, Virginia state director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and Kristine Hall of the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance will participate in a public discussion with Giffords and Kelly.
Tim Heaphy, former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, and Conaway Haskins, who was state director for former U.S. senator Jim Webb (D-Va.), will sit on the Virginia Coalition for Common Sense.