Cline on the Virginia Beach massacre

Nearly 48 hours after the horrific slaughter in Virginia Beach, Congressman Cline has finally acknowledged it on his Facebook page.

Sorry, Congressman. That’s too late and much too little.

On Saturday– one day after the atrocity– Cline addressed a meeting of the Sixth District Republican Committee in Harrisonburg. He did not mention Virginia Beach at all. But he did restate his commitment to opposing any and all forms of firearms regulation. He said that when he entered Congress this year, he urged Republican leaders to appoint him to the Judiciary Committee and “task me with defeating gun control bills.”

As a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, Cline helped kill virtually every legislative effort to impose regulations of any kind on ownership of firearms or the kinds of weapons and accessories that can be sold or owned in the commonwealth.

In 2018, after he was named chair of the Militia, Police, and Public Safety Committee in the House of Delegates, he bragged about his endorsements by the National Rifle Association (one of the largest donors to his campaigns) and the Virginia Citizens Defense League— which prides itself on being more extreme than the NRA.

In 2017, the VCDL PAC even went so far as to say, “Ben just might have the ONLY absolutely unblemished record in the [General Assembly]! He is as faithful as they come!”

This, after all, is a man who opposed issuing a new Virginia license plate with the message: “Stop Gun Violence.”

So we don’t have to guess what Cline’s position would have been on this if he had been in Richmond this year.

A Virginia bill designed to ban sales of large-capacity magazines similar to those used by the Virginia Beach gunman died in committee in January on a party-line vote.

The fate of the legislation, SB1748, was so widely expected that the outcome drew virtually no public attention. For more than 20 years, Republicans and a few rural Democrats in the General Assembly have killed almost every measure aimed at restricting gun ownership.

Virginia Beach police said their officers shot and killed the gunman after a lengthy gun battle in which he used two .45-caliber semiautomatic handguns that were purchased legally.

Along with the weapons at the scene, investigators found a sound suppressor and extended magazines, which contain more than the standard number of rounds. Police have not identified a motive for the shooting.

[State Sen. Adam P.] Ebbin’s bill would have prohibited any person from importing, selling, bartering or transferring a firearms magazine designed to hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Eight Republicans voted it down, with six Democrats in favor, in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on Jan. 28.

Another bill that died in the Virginia House in January would have allowed localities such as Virginia Beach to ban firearms from government buildings such as the one where the attack on Friday occurred. Virginia Beach Council member Guy King Tower said after the shooting that it was regrettable that the city needed state approval to take such actions.

It’s regrettable too that we are represented in Congress by a man whose devotion to the radical “gun rights” lobby is so slavish that he dutifully opposes the most common-sense measures to restrict gun violence– even those supported by many or most gun owners.

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