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Cuccinelli, McAuliffe talk guns at Virginia Tech | Politics

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Cuccinelli, McAuliffe talk guns at Virginia Tech

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Republican Ken Cuccinelli is defending the rights of gun owners during his debate with Democrat Terry McAuliffe, saying tougher laws would not have prevented the massacre on Virginia Tech's campus that left 33 dead.

McAuliffe has seen his lead grow over Cuccinelli in polls. He said Thursday that government has a role in keeping people safe and tougher laws like expanded background checks could help. McAuliffe says, quote, "some people should not own guns."

The candidates met with less than two weeks before Nov. 5's election that could be a test whether a deeply conservative candidate like Cuccinelli can win statewide. They traded criticism over the economy, education and their records.

But the specter of the 2007 massacre on this campus was an early instance where Cuccinelli and McAuliffe split.

Robert Sarvis, who is also running for governor said in a statement, "The debate didn't offer much value for voters. This is what two men without ideas or depth look like. Virginia voters were prevented from hearing me discuss the problems and challenges we face.  The Commonwealth's electorate was deprived of an opportunity to hear about my vision of a Virginia that's both 'Open-minded and Open for Business.'"

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