The gun group spent big trying to keep the Republican legislative majorities in its home state.
The National Rifle Association is headquartered in Fairfax County, Virginia. Come next year, its staffers will likely have to live with sensible gun laws, thanks to a Democratic sweep in the state legislature following Tuesday night's elections.
In a tweet and press release on Wednesday afternoon, the NRA warned Virginia residents to be very afraid.
The gun group specifically claimed Virginians would soon "live under" the rule of anti-gun-violence activist and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "He despises our right to self-defense and he despises our freedom," the group tweeted, vowing not to "back down."
The group also posted a GIF of the Virginia State Capitol, captioned with the words, "On Jan. 8, 2020, Bloomberg moves into the house he bought."
"As if Gov. Northam’s legacy of ineptitude wasn’t enough, Virginians are about to experience life under a distant tycoon’s thumb," the NRA said in a press statement the same day. "Candidates who proudly accepted Bloomberg’s cash—and every voter they misled—will soon realize the cost of being beholden to a Manhattan billionaire who despises Virginians' right to self-defense."
Virginia has witnessed several horrific mass shootings in recent years, including at Virginia Tech in 2011 and in Virginia Beach in May. Virginia voters strongly favor common-sense measures to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, including universal background checks and red-flag laws to temporarily disarm people adjudicated to be a threat to themselves of others.
Both Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and his predecessor, Terry McAuliffe (D) ran for office boasting of their F-ratings from the NRA. But gun legislation has been stymied over that time by the Republican majority in the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate.
Earlier this year, Northam called a July special session hoping the legislature would address gun violence. The NRA's lobbying team — quite literally — set up their operation in Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox's conference room to confront that session, handing out t-shirts and hats to "an army of gun rights activists" who stopped by, according to the Washington Post.
Republican House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert and his caucus eventually managed to end that special session after just 90 minutes, before any bills were even considered.
Two months later, the NRA rewarded Gilbert with a $200,000 donation to his leadership PAC, which he used to try to re-elect his slim House majority. In total, the NRA gave more than $350,000 to Virginia House and Senate Republicans prior to Tuesday's elections.
It did not work. After promising action on gun reforms — and with the support of gun violence prevention groups — Democrats gained majorities in both chambers on Tuesday.
Tuesday's result represents a huge repudiation of the gun lobby and its opposition to virtually any gun restrictions. Everytown for Gun Safety, the organization Bloomberg founded, took notice.
"This is MAJOR," the group tweeted Tuesday night, referring to Virginia's Democratic victories. "In the NRA's home state, Virginians just elected a #GunSenseMajority in BOTH the State Senate & the House of Delegates."
The group added, "What happens in VA doesn’t stay in VA. 2020 candidates across the country are on notice: Fight for gun safety, or start looking for another job."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.