VA Attorney General Bob McDonnell Visits W&M

Virginia Attorney General, Bob McDonnell, visited William & Mary School of Law earlier today and spoke to The Federalist Society and guests. Although ACS and I have some strong ideological differences with AG McDonnell, he should be commended for staying relatively non-partisan in his lecture.

AG McDonnell touched on a variety of topics, and also spoke about what aroused his political interest. As a former prosecutor, he felt that in the late 80s and early 90s that too much attention was being paid to the needs of criminals, while not enough attention was being paid to victims.

Prior to discussing specific issues and the things that are occurring these days in the Virginia legislature, the AG also spent some time discussing his political philosophy. His philosophy really focuses on paying a great deal of attention to the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution, and his belief that powers not expressly given to the federal government are definitely best left to the states. This is not a novel concept but it provides insight into his view of why government should be smaller than it currently is.

The Commonwealth’s AG talked about mental health reform during the 2008 Virginia General Assembly Session and discussed it in the context of the tragedy at Virginia Tech that occurred last year. There is no doubt that more needed to be done regarding mental health reform in light of last year’s horrendous crime. In my opinion, the legislation working its way through the Virginia General Assembly, seems fair and is certainly needed. I can’t argue against notifying parents when college students are deemed to be a serious threat to themselves or others.

Having said that, it seems that the AG is interested in only attacking the issue from one direction. One would think that it may be reasonable to also support tougher legislation so that those who want to acquire guns for legitimate purposes are the ones who get them. Legitimate purposes would be self-defense and recreational activities such as hunting, or even those who may get them as part of a collection. However, the AG did not support the idea of tougher gun laws, seeming to leave loopholes open for troubled individuals to commit crimes. Remember, it’s sometimes very difficult to realize how much of a threat an individual is until they commit a heinous crime. Strengthening gun-safety laws at that point in time is action behind the curve, rather than where we need to be, which is ahead of the curve.

The AG also felt that Virginia can take care of itself and this is not an area where the federal government should step in and regulate. As one of the questioners (another ACS member) pointed out, in this day and age, how can a state keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous people when they can buy weapons online from other states? The AG’s answer was a little confusing at this point, which may be a reflection of the power of the gun lobby in Virginia. Regardless, he does not seem to support any federal legislation to help with the problem.

Furthermore, the AG mentioned the amicus brief he joined in District of Columbia v. Heller, where he firmly believes DC’s policies unfairly abridge individual’s 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.

All in all, the AG’s lecture was enjoyable and he was very civil to those with different ideological viewpoints. He gave a polished presentation and will likely be a formidable opponent for future political offices. After all, he did mention his upcoming campaign for governor once, but only at the very end (just like this post)!

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Published in: on February 27, 2008 at 9:03 pm Comments Off on VA Attorney General Bob McDonnell Visits W&M

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