RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - As angered gun control activists prepared to deliver a petition of 3,000 signatures to Capitol Square, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) defended his historic gun compromise, which expands concealed-carry permit rights in exchange for two new gun control measures.
"There is no evidence that anyone with a concealed carry permit has ever harmed anyone in Virginia," McAuliffe said in an interview Wednesday.
"But I do know that people have been killed with protective orders."
McAuliffe's compromise brokered with Republicans forces people responsible for abusive relationships and broken homes to surrender firearms within 24 hours.
Currently, people under protective orders are allowed to keep their guns, but are barred from buying new weapons.
"This is the strongest [domestic violence gun] legislation anywhere in America," McAuliffe said. "And guess what? We did it here in Virginia, the home of the NRA."
The parents of journalist Alison Parker, who was killed on live television by a gunman in August, will be at the Capitol on Thursday to protest the governor's agreement.
"You should not be willing to recognize concealed carry permits from states with weaker standards, in exchange for the NRA support of very watered-down gun safety bills," Andy Parker said at a news conference Friday.
The controversy began in December, when Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring announced Virginia would no longer honor out-of-state concealed carry permits from 25 states.
The Attorney General's Office determined half the country had weaker concealed carry regulations than Virginia's, and set a Feb. 1 end date for reciprocity agreements.
But after Republicans met with McAuliffe and asked him to reverse course, the governor urged GOP lawmakers to return with a compromise.
"I believe this sends a clear message that there's a mutual willingness to keep our communities safe and protect victims of domestic violence," House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) said at the State Capitol.
"Virginia won. And that's all there is to it."
Under the deal announced Friday, State Police would now be positioned at every Virginia gun show, in order to run background checks for small gun dealers.
VSP officers will have access to the federal background database, a system which smaller vendors cannot currently access.
With the legislation providing the first major changes to the Commonwealth's gun laws in 23 years, McAuliffe said little more can be done in Virginia's current political climate to prevent gun violence.
"The only thing we could do to get stronger, would be mandatory background checks," McAuliffe said.
"Hell will freeze over before that will pass this General assembly."
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