The One Thing To Know About Tim Kaine: Clinton's VP Takes A Firm Stance On Guns
Hillary Clinton named Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her vice-presidential pick Friday in a much anticipated — but not completely surprising — announcement made days before the Democratic National Convention kicks off in Philadelphia. A veteran politician, Kaine brings 18 years of political experience and a solid record of support for many issues central to the Democratic ticket to the table. With recent shootings in Orlando, Dallas, and Baton Rouge, gun control has become a prominent election issue and one Clinton's new running mate could take the reins on. For nearly a decade Sen. Kaine has taken a firm stance on gun control for one very important reason.
Gun control has served as a defining issue for Kaine's political career. Following four-year stints as mayor of Richmond and Virginia's lieutenant governor, Kaine was elected governor in 2006. A little over a year into his term, a gunman shot and killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in what was one of the nation's most high-profile mass shootings. It was a defining moment for the Virginia politician, inspiring him to make commonsense gun reform a personal priority.
In the immediate aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre, Kaine launched an independent commission to examine both the factors leading up to the shooting and police response. The resulting report listed more than 70 recommendations for how the incident could have been prevented and offered detailed recommendations for improving gun and campus safety. The then-Virginia governor also pushed through an executive order prohibiting firearm sales to those known to be dangerous or ordered to complete involuntary mental health treatment.
Once a self-described strong supporter of the Second Amendment and a gun owner, Kaine has come out publicly in support of the Fix Gun Checks Act, which would strengthen background checks on private online firearm sales to close existing loopholes. He also supports legislation requiring completed background checks for every buyer purchasing firearms from a federally licensed seller known as the No Check No Sale Act. The senator has also been a long-time advocate for a bill that would allow the Centers for Disease Control to study gun safety, calling it life-saving research. While serving in the Senate in 2013, Kaine voted to ban large-capacity ammunition feeding devices. He's consistently been given a 100 percent rating by the Brady Campaign and an "F" grade from the National Rifle Association.
Most recently, Kaine joined Sen. Chris Murphy in a 15-hour filibuster calling for Congress to close gun show and internet sale loopholes by expanding universal background checks and passing legislation to prohibit those on terrorist watch lists from purchasing firearms. Speaking on the Senate floor, Kaine referenced the Virginia Tech massacre in urging Republicans to call for a vote.
"We've been bystanders in this body, we've been bystanders in this nation, as this carnage of gun violence has gone from one tragedy to the next," Kaine said. "To cast a vote, that's not heroic. To stand up and say we can be safer tomorrow, we can protect people's lives, that's not heroic. That's just saying, 'I will not be a bystander.' And that's all we have to do."
For Clinton's newly-named running mate, gun control has become a personal issue. As a gun owner who advocates for commonsense gun control reform, Kaine brings a more moderate stance to the issue, which could potentially appeal to both independents and moderates seeking to curb gun violence without eliminating citizens' right to bear arms.