With a newly elected Republican governor, a fortified GOP majority in the House of Delegates, and sympathetic rural Democrats in the Senate, proponents of expanding gun rights and the death penalty entered the 2010 General Assembly session with an ambitious agenda.
Repeal the one-gun-a-month statute. Allow concealed guns in bars and in cars. Expand the death penalty to accomplices in capital murders. Prohibit public access to records of holders of concealed-handgun permits. Prohibit localities from requiring fingerprints to apply for concealed handguns. Change the restrictions on hunting near subdivisions.
The only obstacle was the Democrat-dominated 15-member Senate Courts of Justice Committee and its chairman -- a soft-spoken, stubborn, septuagenarian senator and noted civil-rights lawyer from Richmond, Sen. Henry L. Marsh III.
Marsh turned out to be carrying a big stick.
All is not lost in Virginia as long as there are good men like Sen. Marsh on the job.
Did you think it's an interesting connection there between "expanding gun rights and the death penalty?" They usually go together. Why do you think that is?
One interesting thing about Marsh is that like some other gun control advocates he'd suffered a terrible personal tragedy.
I understand the "against gun violence" part, but something like that "cemented his opposition to the death penalty?" Now that's unusual.
In 1997, his 59-year-old brother, Richmond lawyer and substitute Judge Harold M. Marsh Sr., was fatally shot while stopped at a South Richmond traffic light.
The senator said the tragedy reaffirmed his stance against gun violence and cemented his opposition to the death penalty -- two positions he has advocated consistently on the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.
What's your opinion? Is there hope for Virginia after all? Please leave a comment.