Ping pong in a hailstorm: Sometimes you misfire.

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.

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4 comments

  1. Maybe it’s a rookie mistake, and maybe it’s not. The likelihood of his repeating this error are, in fact, high.

    I mean, c’mon… The guy’s a human, right? What are the odds that a man, asked to press one of two buttons in response to a called “vote” on a subject that is likely identified only by an alphanumeric tag, where he has literally seconds to determine which one to press, and *cannot* correct a mistake if made… is going to press the wrong button? Now, what are his odds of never making that mistake in over, say, 300 attempts?

    Years ago, National Geographic ran a piece on the psychology and brain functions of “making mistakes”. I remember they looked at research that was performed to determine how to prevent an incorrect push of a button in a nuclear power plant. They determined that you could NOT prevent that from happening 100% of the time, even though a “China syndrome” result could occur, and the personnel of the plant knew it. That’s why there are something like 4 layers of error-checking in such facilities.

    No, I’m with you on this one. The guy’s probably getting an ulcer over that one, and no one needs to do more than tell him to get back in the saddle, do better next time. Which I’m sure he will.

  2. Thanks for explaining this vote Rick.

    Thanks goes to Tag for all of his support on the numerous 2A bills this session as well.

  3. Thanks, everyone, for being understanding. Bob, you’re correct that Tag’s sweating over this one and he’s just that kind of guy that will be grumbling at himself over this even after the rest of us have waved it off. (I’m sure you know the type… Me, for instance.) Honestly, the sheer volume of stuff they’ve dealt with so far and the pace they have to keep to get to it all has surprised me quite a bit. I’m even reconsidering my immediate disdain at Congress over the matter of every Rep reading every single line of every single bill. That’s another post, however. I still need to think all of that through.

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