Mark Kelly, the former astronaut and gun control advocate, demanded on Friday that Ed Gillespie, the Republican running for Virginia governor, release the candidate survey he submitted to the National Rifle Association before winning its endorsement.
Kelly, the husband of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who survived an assasination attempt by a gunman in her district in 2011, also wants to know if Gillespie would support laws that allow people to carry concealed firearms in schools and without permits.
"Virginia voters need and deserve to know where he stands, and they deserve to know whether he is going to put the profits of the gun lobby over the safety of Virginia's children and families," said Kelly, co-founder with his wife of the Americans for Responsible Solutions gun control group, which has endorsed Gillespie's Democratic opponent in the race, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam.
A former Army doctor, Northam has reiterated his call for a ban on military-grade weapons and high-capacity magazines after Sunday's mass shooting in Las Vegas that left 59 dead and nearly 500 injured. "We do not need assault weapons on our streets," said Northam, who attended a candlelight vigil Monday to honor the victims.
Northam, who has spoken emotionally about providing medical care to shooting victims, also favors universal background checks for gun buyers and wants Virginia to restore its law restricting gun purchases to one per month.
On Friday, Gillespie joined the NRA and other Republicans in supporting a ban on bump stocks - the device used by the shooter in Sunday's Las Vegas massacre.
But he stopped short of calling for other changes. And his campaign would not release his responses to the NRA candidate survey.
Dave Abrams, a spokesman for Gillespie, instead, Abrams issued the campaign's standard response to questions involving guns, "Ed will be a strong supporter of protecting Virginians' Second Amendment rights."
In an unrelated conference call with reporters on Friday, Gillespie said it was "perfectly legitimate" to regulate or ban devices meant to circumvent the law — such as bump stocks. The National Rifle Association unexpectedly joined the effort to do so on Thursday, providing political cover for Republicans.
The other GOP statewide nominees — Jill Vogel, running for lieutenant governor, and John Adams, running for attorney general — did not call for restricting bump stocks when asked for their positions on Thursday. On Friday, a spokesman for Vogel she agrees with Gillespie, and Adams said he would defend any legislation on the topic passed by the General Assembly if it's challenged in court.
The issue of guns has drawn considerable money into Virginia's elections.
Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, bankrolled by former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, has committed to spend at least $700,000 to elect Northam, while Americans for Responsible Solutions plans to spend $150,000 on mailers.
The National Rifle Association has planned $750,000 in political advertisements starting Tuesday, though their purpose and content is unclear.