RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Advocates and opponents of gun control held dueling demonstrations at the Virginia Capitol on Monday as the perennial debate over the hot-button topic began anew.
Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe is pushing a package of gun control measures ahead of this fall's state legislative elections even though they stand little chance of passage in the Republican-controlled General Assembly.
Pro-gun forces held a rally Monday morning. Many attendees wore orange "Guns Save Lives" stickers and a speaker assailed McAuliffe and other gun-control advocates as "gun grabbers."
In the afternoon, gun-control backers wore yellow "Background Checks Save Lives" stickers and displayed a string of red paper hearts representing the more than 800 gun deaths in Virginia last year.
Among the speakers was Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring.
McAuliffe has proposed restoring a Virginia law, repealed in 2012, limiting handgun purchases to one a month; closing the so-called "gun show loophole" that allows sales by private sellers without a criminal background check; prohibiting possession of firearms by people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence and those subject to protective orders; and revoking concealed handgun permits of parents delinquent on child support payments.
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers have introduced a variety of gun-rights measures, including bills that would allow concealed-handgun permit holders to carry their guns on school property outside normal school hours; prohibit colleges and universities from restricting the carrying of concealed handguns on campus; allow handguns in unsecured areas of airport terminals; and allow lifetime concealed handgun permits. Under current law, permits must be renewed every five years.
LEESBURG, Va. (AP) -- Former Washington Redskins defensive back Fred Smoot has been acquitted of misdemeanor domestic assault following a bench trial in Loudoun County.
Smoot testified in his own defense Monday in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. He denied hitting his former girlfriend, Valerie Jackson, though he admitted kicking down a bathroom door in an effort to retrieve a set of car keys from her.
The judge said the evidence amounted to a case of "he said, she said" in announcing the not-guilty verdict.
Smoot was suspended from local TV and radio jobs as a football analyst following his arrest in November. He said he now hopes to get his jobs back.
Smoot's 9-year NFL career ended with the Redskins in 2009. He also played two seasons for the Minnesota Vikings.
The man charged with abducting missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham has been linked to the disappearance and death of a Virginia Tech student and three sexual assault allegations. Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., 32, has only been charged in the Graham case. Here are some key dates:
-October 2002: Matthew was accused of raping a fellow Liberty University student on the campus in Lynchburg, Virginia. A prosecutor says the matter was dropped when the student declined to move forward with the case.
-September 2003: Matthew was accused of sexual assault on the campus of Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia by another student. School officials said police investigated, but the victim chose not to proceed with a prosecution. Matthew left school in October.
-October 2009: Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington disappears after attending a rock concert at the University of Virginia. Her remains are found three months later in a field. Virginia State Police say forensic evidence from Matthew's arrest provides a ``significant break'' in the Harrington case. They haven't elaborated. The FBI has previously said DNA from Harrington's attacker matched the attacker in a September 2005 rape of a 26-year-old woman in Fairfax City.
-Sept. 12, 2014: Graham, an 18-year-old sophomore, leaves her apartment to meet friends at a Charlottesville, Virginia, restaurant.
-Sept. 13: After stopping by two off-campus parties, Graham leaves alone and sends friends several text messages, including one shortly after 1 a.m. saying she is lost.
-Sept. 17: Graham's parents say in a statement they fear she is the victim of ``foul play.'' Police release surveillance videos showing Graham walking past a pub and, minutes later, running past a gas station.
-Sept. 19: Police search Matthew's car and apartment.
-Sept. 23: Police obtain warrant charging Matthew with abduction with intent to defile, or sexually assault, Graham.
-Sept. 24: A deputy sheriff responding to a report of a suspicious person apprehends Matthew on a beach near Galveston, Texas.
-Sept. 26: Matthew is returned to Charlottesville. He is held without bond.
-Oct. 18: A volunteer search for Hannah is called off; police notify her parents that human remains that could be hers have been found.