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5 Ways Virginia May Be the Worst State in the Nation

It isn't known for being a bastion of liberalism, but even for a 'purplish' state, Virginia has taken extraordinarily conservative actions recently.
 
 
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Reading the news these days is like going through a time warp. States across the country are racing toward the past. It's 2012 and we're still forced to stomach "debates" on birth control and whether we should be teaching science in the classroom. Georgia may pass a law banning protests at or near private homes. In Missouri Republicans are stripping healthcare provisions for the blind. We've hit a new low. And one of the states leading this mad dash to the bottom is Virginia.

It isn't known for being a bastion of liberalism, but even for a "purplish" state, Virginia has taken extraordinarily conservative actions recently. The push has come from the Right -- and the perfect storm of a Republican governor with eyes on the vice president's mansion in Washington: an ultra-conservative attorney general (who thought the goddess on Virginia's state seal, which dates back to 1776, was dressed inappropriately); and a GOP-controlled state legislature. The combination has been bad news for women, gays and lesbians, the environment, and just about everyone else in the state, too. Here are five recent examples of just how bad things have gotten.

1. The More Guns, the Merrier

On February 27, three students where shot and killed by a fellow classmate wielding a handgun at Chardon High School in Ohio. The next day, in a state scarred by the worst school shooting in the country's history -- at Virginia Tech in April 2007 -- Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed a new gun law -- one that makes it possible to buy more handguns. The law was a repeal of a 1993 law that limited handgun purchases to one per month.

"The [1993] law was intended to stanch the flow of guns from Virginia to New York City and other metropolitan areas in the Northeast," the AP reported. "In 1991, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms found that 40 percent of the 1,236 guns found at crime scenes in New York had been purchased in Virginia."

New York's Mayor Bloomberg told the NY Daily News, "Virginia is the No. 1 out-of-state source of crime guns in New York, and one of the top suppliers of crime guns nationally." 

But the Republican-controlled Virginia state legislature and the state's governor sided with the gun lobby instead -- despite the opinions of a majority of their constituents.

Victims of the Virginia Tech shooting, where 32 peopled were gunned down and 17 others injured, met with Governor McDonnell days before he signed the bill. One student, Chris Goddard, who was shot four times, said McDonnell "offered sympathy, not solutions."

"McDonnell seems to have learned little since that horrible day about our desire to be safe," Jim Winkler of the Faiths United Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence wrote in the Richmond-Times Dispatch. "Sixty-six percent of Virginians told the Richmond-Times Dispatch that they wanted the one-handgun restriction to remain in place. Clearly, who has a legitimate need to buy more than one handgun a month? But our governor put the agenda of a lobby ahead of the people he was elected to represent. He put the gun lobby's agenda ahead of protecting the residents of his state from the life-altering and life-ending horror of gun violence. Innocent lives will be lost as a result. It is not only shameful that the governor did this, it is immoral." 

Virginia is already a gun-friendly state. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence reports that, "Virginia has weak gun laws that help feed the illegal gun market, allow the sale of guns without background checks and put children at risk." The organization has given the state a dismal ranking of 12 out of 100 points for gun control laws. And now, things may get even worse. 

 
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