Is this fall’s Virginia election the canary in the coal mine for gun control?

Is this fall’s Virginia election the canary in the coal mine for gun control?

August 21, 20192 min read

There will be a lot of eyes on Virginia as voters go to the polls to elect its state government this November.  Virginia is just one of four states going to the polls this year and it seems like gun-control (or various forms of it) might be a key issue.

In fact, Republican Tim Hugo has flip-flopped and is now favoring a Republican drafted “red flag” gun bill that would remove guns from some people considered a risk to themselves or others. 

Stephen J. Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, said suburban Republicans like Hugo and Miyares are walking a fine line on volatile issues like gun control as Democrats make inroads in those communities.

Those Republicans in moderate areas feel pressure to side with their party in larger political battles, such as the one that occurred in Richmond last month, when the GOP leaders abruptly ended the special session.

But they also can’t appear to be out of sync with their changing districts on guns and other divisive topics, Farnsworth said.

“Delegate Hugo has to do something to appeal to suburban constituents who are moving away from a Republican Party that is represented by President Trump,” Farnsworth said, noting that the delegate won his 2017 election by just 106 votes.

“By offering a response on a gun control measure, Hugo is trying to demonstrate to his voters that he is not simply another Republican willing to shut down debate on the issue before the election,” he said.  August 17 – Washington Post

Could this be a sign of things to come for 2020?

  • Are politicians actually considering gun control on both sides of the aisle?
  • Or is this just another bait and switch by a politician looking to play both sides during a campaign?

If you are a reporter covering this topic – let our experts help.

Dr. Stephen Farnsworth is professor of political science and international affairs at the University of Mary Washington. A published author and a media ‘go-to’ on U.S. politics, he is available to speak with media regarding this topic. Simply click on his icon to arrange an interview.

Connect with:
  • Stephen Farnsworth
    Stephen Farnsworth Professor of Political Science and International Affairs

    Dr. Farnsworth has spent decades researching how media and politics intersect. Check out his website at

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