This was another strange week at the General Assembly. The focus of the new majority is on issues that will have little effect on the life of most Virginians. Instead, they are focused on attracting headlines with issues that might signify nothing for most.
Universal background checks
We have spent hours on the misnamed issue of gun background checks that claim to be universal. However, all our debate focused on sales of guns in which there are few problems. At the same time, the majority offers nothing of how to deal with the many problems that we have with stolen weapons. Not a single gun that is stolen and then resold on the street will be checked. Instead, every exchange of ownership between family members, personal friends and other such connections will be subject to prosecution for breaking the law. If a father gives his son or daughter an heirloom weapon, they know if their child has a criminal record. They simply will not contact the state police to check to see if there is an issue with prior crimes or mental health.
We will now have background checks for these and other citizens that buy guns at gun shows. For 30 years that has been the law when buying from gun retailers. The dealer is required to get permission for a sale. If it is someone that should not be buying a weapon, the sale does not take place. There is no law enforcement effort to charge anyone for trying to illegally make a purchase or for that matter even a warning that they cannot buy a gun.
Many were excited about the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the United States Constitution. When this was first proposed in the early 1970s, it made sense. However, just as fresh milk is good, once it goes past its date — not so much. Since first proposed by Congress, hundreds of laws have been written to protect the rights of women which gives women the right to sue in state and federal courts when discrimination occurs. It is regrettable when discrimination occurs, however, it makes little difference if it goes to court for constitutional reasons or because a law has been broken. The proponents were excited with the successful passage. Undeterred by the fact that the United States Supreme Court in 1978 gave the states five additional years for the thirty-eight states needed for it to be ratified.
An awful lot has changed since the 1970s. No one then would imagine that the highest-level legislative person, the Speaker of the House, both in Virginia and in Washington would be women. Likewise, a majority of chairs of committees in the General Assembly would be held by women.
None of us knows where this will lead. Maybe nowhere if the courts determine that it truly had to be ratified by 1982. Should it be part of the U.S. Constitution, there are many questions about various laws that will be affected. Will restrooms be allowed to be single sex? For safety reasons, with two granddaughters, I do not want men coming into restrooms with them. Will sports continue to exist as we know them? We have school teams that are currently being destroyed in several states by some that were born males using their superior size and strength to dominate girls in sports. Title Nine laws currently require equity in sports opportunities. Will we continue to have both male and female teams? Will athletic ability determine the makeup of teams or will that be determined by a policy of equality on each team? Imagine the unfairness of someone with the skills of a LeBron James deciding he wants to play against female athletes.
Coming weeks won’t get better.
One bill that is going through the process is designed to circumvent to Election College. A system that was designed to protect the rights of the smaller states. Negotiated to assure that the votes of all states matter. What this bill would do is allow a presidential candidate to run up high numbers in the largest states, bypass less populated ones, then Virginia’s electors would vote for the winner regardless of the wishes of Virginians.
Frank Ruff Jr. serves as the 15th District senator in Virginia. He can be reached at Sen.Ruff@verizon.net, (434) 374-5129 or P.O. Box 332, Clarksville, VA 23927.