(With just 11 days left until the general election, now is the time to give everything you’ve got, to leave it all on the field. To help keep you motivated and focused, we’ve been running a quick series we’re calling “What’s At Stake Nov. 5th” highlighting a handful of reasons this election is so critically important to Virginians.)
In 2017, there were 1,041 firearms-related deaths in Virginia, the 12th highest rate in the US. Virginia unfortunately does not require every firearm purchaser to undergo a background check. Private sellers (in particular those at gun shows and online dealers) are not required to conduct background checks. This creates a huge loophole for people who otherwise couldn’t purchase firearms to easily access them. Around 80% of all firearms acquired for criminal purposes are obtained through these types of transfers from private, unlicensed sellers.
2017 polling found that 94% of Virginians support universal background checks—NINETY-FOUR PERCENT! That includes 90% of Republicans!
So, passing such a law seems like a total no-brainer, right? I mean, who wouldn’t want to please 94% of their constituents? Apparently the Republicans in the General Assembly, that’s who. Their support from the NRA and the VCDL are clearly more important to them than their constituents, because year after year, they vote in Senate Committees and House Subcommittees to kill the universal background check bills that our Democratic legislators put forward. They had two chances this year to give any serious consideration to this and other gun violence preventative legislation. First, during the regular session they quickly dismissed every single bill to protect Virginians from gun violence. Then, in a special session called by Governor Northam following the tragic Virginia Beach shooting that resulted in 13 deaths, the Republicans shut down the meetings in less than 90 minutes, without even taking up a single piece of legislation for consideration.
Despite the public being far less divided on gun violence prevention, this has clearly become a 100% partisan issue for the General Assembly. No amount of negotiating, or “working across the aisle” is going to lead to results. The Virginia GOP has shown itself to be completely unreasonable and unmovable on this issue. The only way to make progress on reducing gun violence is to take to the polls on November 5th in massive numbers, and vote these people out of office.