It’s no secret that I’m a 2nd Amendment supporter and that I keep track of many bills regarding this topic as they move through Virginia’s General Assembly. I pay special attention to the votes of my direct representation which means that’s I’m keeping an eye on the votes of Senator Mark Herring and Delegate Tag Greason.
Herring’s votes regarding the 2nd Amendment are, to put it mildly, spotty at best. While he purports to be a supporter of 2nd Amendment rights and he managed to get the vote right on the matter of SB268 (which I reported back in January) his near constant opposition to bills designed to support the actual citizen exercise of rights protected by the 2nd Amendment calls his characterization as a “supporter” into question. I’m displeased with his stance, but hardly surprised.
Tag Greason, on the other hand, is a true supporter and his votes on issues related to firearms and to Virginia’s sovereignty prove that support. That’s why I was surprised to the point of shocked when I heard of Greason’s vote on the matter of HB69, “Firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition manufactured and retained in Virginia.” The bill has Virginia joining with a number of other states in asserting their sovereign control over matters within their own borders, specifically with reference to the manufacture and sale of firearms that do not leave the state. The vote shows Greason voting “No” on the matter, effectively saying he thinks the manufacture and sale of firearms should be under federal control regardless of whether they are involved in interstate commerce or not. The bill passed the House by a better than 2-to-1 margin so his vote wasn’t critical to the bill’s success. However, knowing his positions on these matters as I do, I wrote to him asking for him to explain. Was his vote recorded correctly? Was there something in this bill that didn’t look right?
Tag’s response was, frankly, what I was thinking it might be. I’ve read elsewhere that the General Assembly dealt with about 2600 bills in this session. Even if we assume that the bills are evenly split between the House and the Senate (they’re not, but let’s go with it anyway) that means they had 1300 bills to go over and vote on in the 1st half of the session, about 30 days. As the halfway mark approaches, each house of the GA must conclude their business and send their bills to the other house. That makes “crossover day” a very busy one since any bill that hasn’t come up for a floor vote must do so before the day is adjourned. This past Tuesday was crossover day and the House handled literally hundreds of bills, a rate that approaches automatic weapon fire if I’m doing the math right.
The short version of the story is that our freshman Delegate, locked “in the heat of battle” on his 1st crossover day, zigged when he should have zagged. Intending to vote “Yes”, he pressed the button for “No” and didn’t notice the error until it was too late to change the vote. It’s on the record now, like it or not. That’s an error, absolutely, but an error is all that it is.
Note that Tag voted “Yes” on 2 other matters, HB10 and HB18, both of which deal with the same matter of Virgina’s sovereignty as HB69 did, just not in the matter of firearms. HB10 does so in preempting any federal mandate that Virginians must buy federally-approved health insurance. HB18 does so in a more generic fashion, holding that any goods or services made or performed within Virginia’s state boundaries are not subject to US Congress authority under the commerce clause. That would arguably apply to firearms as well as anything else so it could be argued that HB18 subsumes HB69 in any event. I think Tag’s intentions are more than clear and his unfortunate vote on HB69 is obviously a matter of a mistake made under the withering pace of crossover day. A rookie mistake, one that I’m confident our now-veteran Delegate won’t repeat.