Video: VA Delegates, Parent of VA Tech Shooting Victim, Demand Stronger Gun Buyer Background Checks

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    This morning, Virginia Democratic delegates (Vivian Watts, Marcus Simon, Rip Sullivan, Eileen Filler-Corn, Ken Plum, Kathleen Murphy, Alfonso Lopez) and candidates (Mark Levine, Liz Miller), plus Peter Reed — father of Virginia Tech mass shooting victim Mary Reed — spoke at an event in Arlington demanding action against gun violence. The first video is of Del. Patrick Hope, who presented 28,000 signatures from his petition (going to the House Militia and Police Committee, Speaker Howell, and Governor McAuliffe) demanding expanded background checks for gun purchasers in Virginia. According to Del. Hope, we’ve reached the point where “we as elected officials become responsible” by doing nothing about mass shootings. Hope said he decided to do something after the recent, televised shootings in Roanoke, becuase he’s “tired and…fed up” about “all the inaction.” This lack of action is in spite of the fact that “universal background checks are supported by 90% of all Virginia…Republicans and Democrats…it’s bipartisan and this should be easy for us to do.” Hope concluded, “This should be easy, but you would be surprised to know that likely your delegate in…Virginia is opposed to universal background checks,” but that “we will never give up [the] fight.”

    I’ll post more video, including some very powerful speeches, in the comments section.

    P.S. Supporters were there from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Concerned Citizens Against Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Rising and Moms Demand Action – VA.

    • According to Peter Reed, although he’s never met Andy Parker, he “immediately knew” what he was going through – the “fresh sense of grief and loss” and “his sense that something must change in the wake of incomprehensible tragedy.” “His courage in speaking up so soon and so clearly inspired me, as has that of other fathers who have spoke up in the wake of losing their children to gun violence; I’ll be proud to join my voice with Andy and so many others in Richmond and in Washington in coming weeks and months.” “I was also incredibly impressed with Delegate Hope’s quick response in urging his colleagues to act on mandatory universal background checks and enabling gun violence restraining orders.” These things have been “stalled in Richmond by lawmakers more beholden to a particular special interest than to the majority of their constituents.” “We have been called emotional, irrational, uncomprehending of crtain political realities. Some have even accused us of ‘dancing in blood’ or worse.” “Well the harsh reality is losing your child to a preventable act of gun violence will make you emotional, and blood is the inevitable price of inaction and ignorance.” “Our choices are simple: do nothing and continue to lose innocent lives daily, or act and help save many lives…I choose to act.”

    • Del. Alfonso Lopez: Talked about how his bill to make it a Class 1 Misdemeanor if an individual gives a child under the age of 4 a firearm was defeated “on a party-line vote in the Militia and Police Subcommittee…as all of these sensible gun violence bills are defeated…We need to change that.”

      Del. Eileen Filler-Corn: “Most of us are still reeling at the tragedy that occurred last week…But we have a choice…sit back, do nothing, status quo or we can make a difference and move forward…continue to push for commonsense gun safety legislation.” Filler-Corn noted a bill she had put forward to prohibit those subject to protective orders from possessing firearms. Again, the bill was defeated in the House Militia and Police Subcommittee (sensing a theme here?), which meant that “none of us here had the opportunity to vote on it on the floor.”

      Del. Ken Plum: Said Del. Hope’s petition just confirms what he’s seen in his district — “overwhelming support for the idea that we do some commonsense things about…ending gun violence.” “Change the legislature, we change the outcome; this is an election year for the House of Delegates and the Senate, and what I hope that people will do is take a close look at where their local legislators stand on this issue.” “140 members of the General Assembly and these commonsense bills for public safety and public health die with four votes…we’ve got to change that.”

      Del. Kathleen Murphy: “It is always gratifying to those of us who lost a loved one as I did to gun violence – my brother was murdered in his place of business…he never had a chance, he was a gun owner, he knew how to use a gun, he had been in the military…and he is still dead…we have a responsibility…to act responsibly and continue…pushing for this issue, demanding action on this issue of gun safety.”

      Del. Vivian Watts: Talked about how there’s “competition” within the “gun rights field,” each one of them “elbowing each other to be more and more and more reactive and conservative.” Watts then spoke about the murder of Peter Reed’s daughter – “she was so proud to go to Virginia Tech…this vibrant teenager who had been such a heart of the Annandale High School band, etc.” “It is that constant reminder of real people, real loss, lives that are at stake, that unfortunately as tragedy after tragedy after tragedy continues that too often is lost in public; everybody needs a little reminder…of a beautiful life such as Mary Reed…”

    • “Those four Republicans” on the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee “have a 100% rating with the NRA…those bills go there to die…unless we have more people…that demand their elected officials support commonsense legislation such as universal background checks, that will continue to be the case.”

      Peter Reed added that “a lot of the legislators regardless of party aren’t being particularly representative of their constituents; I have friends, colleagues who are lifelong, rock-ribbed Republicans who are disgusted with what their representatives don’t do…There are plenty of responsible gun owners out there who have had it with this nonsense…When it comes down to real people this is not a partisan issue.”

    • Background checks work but need to be strengthed/broadened.  

      “Until Congress ultimately gets his act together…we plan to continue our steady march across the country, state by state, and we will do whatever it takes.”

      Virginia is the “seventh easiest state in the nation for prohibited purchasers to get guns; that is not something to be proud of.”

      Alison Parker and Adam Ward “were not just victims of an angry, disturbed man who got his hands on a dangerous gun…they are victims of the obstructionists in the Virginia General Assembly who have failed time and again to enact legislation that would would make a difference…”

      The House Militia and Police committee is chaired by Del. Scott Lingamfelter, who has voted down commonsense gun safety legislation time and again, and “that is not acceptable.”  “I am here today personally to tell Mr. Lingamfelter that while the Militia and Police majority might not care about the gun deaths, they might only care about the corporate gun lobby and pleasing them, we do care…Virginians care, Americans care, and we will do whatever it takes.”