NRA salutes Gilbert for gun rights advocacy

The National Rifle Association recently honored Del. C. Todd Gilbert for his push to give domestic violence victims easier access to guns.

The organization gave Gilbert, R-Woodstock, the Defender of Freedom Award at its 146th annual meeting in Atlanta on Friday, according to an association press release issued Tuesday. The NRA gives the award to people who distinguish themselves in preserving and protecting Second Amendment Rights.

“Well, it’s my honor and privilege to do what I do on behalf of law-abiding gun owners,” Gilbert said by phone Tuesday. “I view the Second Amendment as among our most fundamental, God-given freedoms, as embodying one of our most fundamental, God-given freedoms, which is the right to protect yourself and your family from any threat.”

Gilbert, an attorney, serves on a House subcommittee that hears and considers legislation pertaining to firearms.

“I have the opportunity annually to dispatch legislation that only harms law-abiding gun owners and that does little, if anything, to prevent criminals from doing what they do,” Gilbert said. “So I take great pride in being able to defend those freedoms in that setting.”

Gilbert served as the House of Delegates negotiator last year on a deal that allowed Gov. Terry McAuliffe to authorize concealed-carry reciprocity with all states. The controversial legislation sought to have other states recognize concealed-carry permits issued by Virginia. Permits issued in other states would then be recognized in Virginia, Gilbert explained. The delegate described the deal as one that expanded self-defense rights for law-abiding Virginians.

Gilbert also has carried legislation the past two General Assembly sessions that aimed to allow people who obtained a protective order to legally conceal-carry a firearm without a permit while they apply for such a permit. McAuliffe vetoed Gilbert’s bill two years in a row. The governor argued in vetoing the legislation the first time that it omitted the firearms training as required for concealed-carry permits, Gilbert recalled. The delegate carried legislation the next year that sought to create a fund that would provide immediate training to people in that circumstance, Gilbert said.

“Again, these are people who have gone to get a protective order and a judge somewhere has said ‘I agree that you are sufficiently scared of being hurt or killed or sexually assaulted that I think you need a protective order,'” Gilbert said. “So it’s reached that pitched level of crisis for them to be able to get that kind of protective order.”

McAuliffe also vetoed the training bill, Gilbert noted.

The delegate said he intends to revive his proposals in the next General Assembly and would work with legislators to make the bills pass muster.

“We’ll have a new governor so I certainly would like to see if a new governor is more willing to do something other than pay lip service to victims’ rights, which is what this governor has done,” Gilbert said. “So I’m inclined to bring it back again and see what the next governor, no matter who they are, has to say about it … I’m inclined to think a Republican governor would be more inclined to agree with us on that particular piece of legislation.”

The association lauded Gilbert for sponsoring the NRA-supported domestic violence package. Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, stated that Gilbert has “consistently stood up to the gun control lobby and aggressively fought to promote our fundamental right to self-protection.”

Gilbert, the incoming Republican Majority Leader, has served in the House of Delegates since 2005 as the representative for Shenandoah and Page counties and parts of Warren and Rockingham counties.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com