Amid a conspiracy theory-tinged uproar over the possibility of Virginia passing new gun-control laws, pro-gun activists have scoured the state budget for evidence validating their fears about the government coming for their firearms.
But much of the pro-gun rhetoric surrounding Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposed budget doesn’t match reality.
The two-year budget includes roughly $4 million to support 18 new Virginia State Police positions related to an assault weapon ban, a line item pro-gun groups have portrayed as an ominous sign of looming gun confiscation.
“The Virginia governor’s new budget reveals funding for a new team of anti-gun cops,” reads a headline on conservative website Liberty Nation.
“Gun owners want to know: Is this money going to be used for the gun confiscation that, in November, the governor said he was considering,” Gun Owners of America Senior Vice President Eric Pratt said in a news release urging supporters to pack the state’s budget hearings last week.
“It is not clear from the document what the precise function of these 18 government collaborators would be,” the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action said in a recent post.
According to the governor’s office, the funding is for administrative workers who would oversee the registration/permitting process Democrats are proposing to allow gun owners to keep firearms they already have. The 18 jobs mentioned in the budget are not trooper positions, said Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky.
The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.