To the Editor:
In the Feb. 25, 2016 Gazette, my letter was published concerning Senator Surovell's opposition to a Senate Bill that if enacted into law would allow all State judges whether active or retired to carry a concealed handgun without requiring them to obtain a permit. In the State Senate, only six senators opposed the Bill. Since there are 19 Democratic senators in the State Senate, if all the opponents were Democrats, that means 13 out of 19 supported the Bill. Since at least 68 percent of the 19 Democratic Senators supported the bill, my point was that Senator Surovell is out of the mainstream of even his fellow Democrats on this issue. This is just basic math.
Only two people wrote in to the Gazette to disagree with my letter. On an issue so contentious as gun control, this is surprising. One writer supported Senator Surovell's stand, speculating that the Bill if passed into law might result in a "jittery" judge shooting "at the first startling movement around his house." What does this have to do with permits for carrying of a concealed weapon? State law (18.2-308B) permits the carrying of a concealed weapon by anyone in one's place of abode and surrounding property. He also sarcastically suggested issuing guns to newborns in maternity wards. Maybe viable fetuses should be considered, too.
Both writers stated that Senator Surovell is in agreement with their views on this issue. The second writer complimented the senator for going against the mainstream. If this was just an isolated instance, I would agree. I have documented in other letters that Senator Surovell is often in an extreme corner of political thought as demonstrated by his votes concerning a variety of diverse issues.
The second writer accused me of incorrectly addressing the substance of the legislation. He correctly stated that there is no restriction on judges carrying concealed weapons if they comply with current law. I don't understand this argument because I never asserted that a judge could not obtain a concealed carry permit under current law.
Like Senator Surovell, the two writers appear not to recognize the special circumstances of a judge who is obligated by his or her oath to sentence criminals to jail terms. The total number of judges in the Commonwealth of Virginia likely numbers in the low four figures or fewer, including those who are retired. Yet this small sampling of the populace is more likely than others to be the target of a criminal act by a vengeful former inmate seeking revenge on a judge who fulfilled his or her oath by taking away their liberty for a period of time. While the Bill addresses a small issue, it is enlightening concerning the views of Senator Surovell.
Unfortunately, Senator Surovell's extreme positions on numerous issues make it less likely Northern Virginia will receive a fairer share of the tax revenue we send to Richmond and that we desperately need to address transportation and education needs. A legislature dominated by Republicans likely has little incentive to assist a way-left Democrat in meeting his campaign goals. The rest of us along with the voters who elected him will suffer the consequences.
H. Jay Spiegel