Virginia Senator Tim Kaine is Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the 2016 election, but a surprising number of voters have no idea who he is. Ahead of the first and only vice presidential debate, and with just a few weeks to go until the election, it’s time to really start learning about Kaine and his voting record.
In particular, an issue that is important to many in both parties is gun control, with Republicans concerned over having too many restrictions and Democrats concerned over not having enough restrictions.
So where does Tim Kaine stand on this issue? What did he do in regards to guns throughout his career of being mayor, governor and now senator? Here’s what you need to know about Tim Kaine and the second amendment.
1. While Running For Governor, He Promised Not to Pass Any Gun Laws
Over the years, Tim Kaine’s position on the second amendment has evolved a bit. When he ran for mayor of Richmond, Virginia in 1994, he said that he considered no issue to be more important than gun violence; he supported gun control and at one point was criticized for spending $7,000 to send Richmond residents to a gun-control rally, according to The Washington Post.
But when he ran for governor of Virginia in 2005, apparently in an attempt to not be seen as too liberal, he specifically promised not to pass any new gun laws in the state.
His campaign said at the time, “Tim Kaine strongly supports the Second Amendment. As the next Governor of Virginia, he will not propose any new gun laws. Instead Tim Kaine will guarantee strict enforcement of our existing criminal laws. He will also expand the use of such enforcement strategies as Project Exile that target criminals who use guns rather than law-abiding gun owners.”
2. He Fought for Stricter Gun Control After Virginia Tech
Gun control became much more popular in Virginia after the Virginia Tech Massacre, and in the aftermath of that tragedy, Kaine worked to pass legislation that would require background checks at gun shows.
That was not a success, but via executive order, he did pass a law mandating that in Virginia, individuals who are diagnosed mentally ill and a danger to others cannot purchase a weapon. This was specifically in response to the fact that the Virginia Tech shooter had been diagnosed as dangerously mentally ill yet was still able to get his hands on a firearm.
“I issued an Executive Order to clarify that all who are determined mentally ill and dangerous should be included in the state database,” Kaine said. “This helped spur Congress to pass meaningful, bipartisan legislation to encourage the same result on a national level.”
3. He Supports Banning High-Capacity Magazines
In the years since Virginia Tech, Kaine has consistently been in favor of gun-control measures, especially when he became a Virginia senator. In particular, he voted for banning the sale of high-capacity magazines that carry more than 10 bullets. He believes this would be a more effective solution than an assault weapons ban.
“As soon as you define what an assault weapon is, you know, ‘you can’t sell a weapon, and here’s how we describe it,’ gun manufacturers just make one adjustment or two, and they say, ‘See, this isn’t subject to the limitation,” Kaine said in an interview with Meet the Press. “Whereas if you say, ‘You can’t sell an ammunition clip or a magazine that would have more than ten or 12 rounds’ — that is very straightforward.”
This amendment to the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act, which would ban the sale of high-capacity magazines carrying more than 10 bullets, ultimately failed to pass.
4. He Has An ‘F’ Rating From the NRA
These days, Tim Kaine has an F rating from the NRA, indicating a history of voting for gun-control legislation.
“It doesn’t appear, over this 20 year career, that Kaine has ever seen a type of gun control that he wasn’t in favor of,” the NRA said of Kaine when he was selected as Hillary Clinton’s running mate. “Clinton, based on her commitment to destroying the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans, couldn’t have chosen a more suitable running mate.”
In general, Democrats tout an ‘F’ rating with the NRA as a point of pride, and Clinton says that Kaine has consistently had the “courage to stand up to the gun lobby,” urging supporters to just ask the NRA if they want proof.
5. He Says That the Second Amendment, Like the First, Has Limits
Kaine still does support an individual’s right to own firearms, but he does not belief this should go unrestricted.
He compares it to how the first amendment does still not protect an individual from, for example, shouting “fire” in a crowded movie theater, or slandering another individual.
“A Virginian, James Madison, drafted the Bill of Rights, and we in the Commonwealth believe strongly in the Second Amendment,” Kaine wrote in the Virginia Pilot in 2013. “But just as we know that the First Amendment’s protection of free speech gives no protection to slander or child pornography, we also understand that the individual right to bear arms is tempered by a responsibility to society.”