ED GILLESPIE, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, hopes urban and suburban voters regard him as a moderate. On the issue of firearms, however, Mr. Gillespie is an unabashed opponent of virtually every reasonable gun-safety measure imaginable.
He does not fully advertise his stance. A questionnaire he filled out earlier this year helped earn him the National Rifle Association's A rating, as well as its endorsement. The Gillespie campaign, which certainly knows that most Virginians are more moderate on gun control than is the NRA (whose headquarters is in Northern Virginia), has declined to release that document to voters.
What is publicly known about Mr. Gillespie's positions makes clear that if he is elected governor, he would oppose the enactment of any common-sense gun-safety measures in the state where a gunman killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech in 2007 and where Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was shot at a baseball practice in Alexandria this year.
Mr. Gillespie would oppose "any and all attempts to weaken the Second Amendment rights of Virginians," if necessary by using his veto power, according to his website. He reiterated that position even after the massacre in Las Vegas .
Mr. Gillespie would throw out the rule banning guns in state government buildings. As for whether he would also target laws requiring permits for concealed weapons, or banning them in elementary, middle and high schools, who knows? Mr. Gillespie is apparently content to give those answers to the NRA, but not to voters. And how about waiting periods for handgun purchases, which prevent 750 gun deaths annually, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences? Would Mr. Gillespie oppose those in Virginia?
After the bloodbath in Las Vegas, he did say he'd support legislation banning bump stocks, the accessory that allows semiautomatic weapons to fire near the rate of fully automatic ones — but only after the NRA first said it might back regulation.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam, a physician, treated gun wounds as an Army doctor in the Gulf War and says, "We do not need assault weapons on our streets." Mr. Northam favors banning such weapons, along with high-capacity magazines, and supports universal background checks for gun buyers. In addition, he would support reinstating state legislation, which was repealed five years ago at the insistence of Republican lawmakers, that limits handgun purchases to one a month. Those views, although backed by most Virginians and many gun owners, earned Mr. Northam an F rating from the NRA.
Surveys show that Virginians overwhelmingly support common-sense gun control. Mr. Northam does too; Mr. Gillespie does not.