CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia senator is inviting the National Rifle Association to move to his state as lawmakers pursue gun-control measures in neighboring Virginia, where the group now has its headquarters.
The invitation came in a Monday letter from Republican Sen. Randy Smith to NRA leadership that said his home state lets residents carry guns without permits and its lawmakers have pushed to allow firearms on college campuses.
“Where Virginia is pushing for stricter gun laws, West Virginia has worked on and passed a number of legislation in support of gun rights,” Smith wrote, also noting potential tax incentives for companies that bring their headquarters to the state.
The NRA did not immediately comment.
Smith’s play came on the same day that tens of thousands of gun-rights activists rallied at the Virginia Capitol against the Democratic leadership’s plans for universal background checks, a one-handgun-purchase-a-month limit and other gun-control measures.
Fearing violence, Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam imposed a temporary weapons ban in the designated rally zone. Many demonstrators didn’t enter the area and instead packed into surrounding streets. Some were clad in tactical gear and carried military-style rifles. The day passed largely without incident.
The pushback against proposed new gun restrictions began immediately after Democrats won majorities in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates in November, with much of the opposition focused on a proposed assault weapons ban. More than 100 Virginia communities have since passed measures declaring support for the Second Amendment.
The NRA distanced itself from Monday’s rally and instead held a lobby day last week.