Money is being directed into Virginia as the debate on gun control rages in the wake of mass shootings, including this year's shooting in Virginia Beach.
The National Rifle Association this week made one of its largest donations in Virginia when it donated $200,000 to the Virginia House Majority Leader PAC, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
That money will be distributed by House Majority Leader Del. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Mount Jackson).
“The National Rifle Association’s membership consists of millions of law-abiding gun owners who are weary of efforts to turn them into criminals like the bill Governor Ralph Northam proposed just last month. This donation to my leadership committee pales in comparison to the millions that Mayor Bloomberg has already pledged in order to bring New York-style gun control to Virginia and to the Shenandoah Valley,” Gilbert wrote in an emailed statement.
Bloomberg is the founder of Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control advocacy group.
In response to the NRA donation, House Minority Leader Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax), in an attempt to counter it, matched the amount in a donation to the House Democratic Caucus, according to a statement from the Virginia House Democrats. The funds were from her Energized for Change PAC, which was created to build a Democratic majority in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Filler-Corn, in a prepared statement, said that Democratic control of the Virginia House of Delegates is her top priority in this election year.
“We will work on behalf of all Virginians and get to work on gun violence prevention and other important issues across our Commonwealth,” she stated.
The Democratic Party also weighed in on the NRA donation, calling it a reward.
"The NRA is rewarding Republicans for prioritizing their interests over public safety. Virginia Republicans earned this money by shutting down the special session to prevent gun violence after just 90 minutes without debating a single bill. It's disgusting and sends a clear message to Virginians that the only way to enact common-sense gun safety measures is to vote Republicans out of office in November," said Grant Fox, press secretary for the Democratic Party of Virginia, in an emailed statement.
Gov. Ralph Northam called the legislature into a special session on gun issues earlier this year after the Virginia Beach shooting.
Fox said in today’s environment, after the recent mass shootings, the donation could hurt the Republican Party.
“We've seen thousands of people mobilized to push their legislators to do something about gun violence, especially since Parkland,” Fox said, noting a mass shooting that occurred at a Parkland, Florida, high school in 2018.
Gilbert, who serves on the Virginia State Crime Commission, said the commission just heard two full days of testimony from experts and the public on causes of mass shootings and some potential meaningful solutions so they can then proceed with recommendations.