Sen. Donald McEachin
"I feel morally compelled to introduce concrete legislation in the General Assembly Session in January"
This past Friday we suffered an unspeakable tragedy. Twenty innocent children and six heroic adults were cut down by a hail of bullets in a place that should be a sanctuary: an elementary school. While we all still reel from this horror and still mourn this unbearable loss, we must start to discuss what can be done to prevent future tragedies of this magnitude.
We must work as a nation to improve and strengthen our mental health system. We must ensure that teenagers and adults get the help they need and are not just pushed, ill and unready, into society.
And we must address the tide of gun violence, fed by an unlimited supply of ever more dangerous guns. We can no longer pretend that the wide availability of dangerous weapons has had no impact on the brutal killings committed over the past year. In Newtown, not one child survived the hail of bullets from a semiautomatic assault weapon. I call on our national leaders to finally have a serious conversation about how to stop criminals and the mentally ill from accessing dangerous weapons.
In light of last Friday's events, I feel morally compelled to introduce concrete legislation in the General Assembly Session in January. Over the coming weeks, I will consult with my fellow legislators and announce specific plans that will help stem this horrific tide of gun violence.
When terrorists attacked on 9/11, when hurricanes struck our shores, when bridges collapsed in our cities, America has always pulled together to enact preventive measures to stop future tragedies. We can and we must do the same with mass murders.
Let's ensure that the murders of so many innocent children - and the heroism of the adults who saved so many more - have a lasting legacy. Let's ensure that they were the impetus for us to reassess our laws and find ways, while respecting the millions of law-abiding gun owners in America, to keep these fatal weapons from those who seek to do our families harm.
"Tracy Thorne-Begland is a highly qualified and exceptionally competent prosecutor, who also served our country with honor as a Navy pilot. The blatant prejudice that Republicans displayed last night should have no place in our government. The GOP took Virginia back to the bigotry and mean-spirited prejudice of the 1960s. I thought we had made more progress toward a just society than this," said Senator McEachin.
"The debate in the House of Delegates was homophobic and embarrassing, and showed a disrespect to a chief deputy Commonwealth's Attorney and decorated veteran who was honorably discharged," said Sen. Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria), Virginia's first openly gay senator. "It's also offensive that the Senate Republican leadership wouldn't even grant Lt. Thorne-Begland the courtesy of a Senate vote."
"The only criteria legislators should apply when selecting judges are that person's ability to fairly and impartially weigh the law. Mr. Thorne-Begland's qualifications for appointment to the bench were unimpeachable, but Republicans cynically voted against his appointment just because he was gay," said Senator McEachin.
"Why don't House Republicans trust a Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney to uphold the Constitution? Are they afraid of a tough on crime prosecutor? They question a distinguished former Naval Lieutenant who told the truth? They say that a Navy Achievement Medal awarded by the Secretary of the Navy isn't meaningful?
Their opposition to Tracy Thorne-Begland's nomination was for one reason and one reason alone. Because he is openly gay," added Senator Ebbin.
Yesterday, Republicans defeated my Birth Control Protection Act in a party line vote.
The intent of this bill is simple and straightforward, to simply define contraception in the Virginia Code. In too many places, the line between contraception and abortion is being blurred and I wanted to clarify that so Virginians can plan their families and the incidence of unwanted pregnancies will be reduced.
We all agree on wanting to diminish the number of abortions. The most obvious way to accomplish that goal is to ensure access to contraceptives for couples who wish to use them. All this Act did was to define birth control.
The defeat of this very simply unobtrusive measure makes me wonder if the Republicans real intent is to prevent access to contraceptives, to continue to blur lines and, eventually for them to make all family decisions for Virginians.
Senator McEachin represents Henrico County in the Virginia State Senate, and chairs the Senate Democratic Caucus.
A bill that I introduced this year, which outlawed open carry of guns while drinking alcohol, failed in committee yesterday. Last year, this bill garnered unanimous support on the Senate floor. This year, Republicans hypocritically voted it down in committee.
I am outraged at the hypocrisy of my Republican colleagues. Last year, this bill passed the Senate with a 40 to nothing vote. Last year, we could come to the common sense agreement that guns and alcohol don't mix. Last year, we put the safety of Virginians ahead of a powerful gun lobby and political ambitions.
This year, apparently all that has changed. Virginians still recognize that guns and alcohol don't mix. It is still illegal to imbibe alcohol while carrying a gun with a concealed carry permit . It is still ridiculous that, somehow, it makes more sense to drink while carrying a gun openly. The only thing that has changed is Republican control and Republican partisan politics overcoming common sense and prioritizing the safety of Virginians.
I am appalled at the hypocrisy of my Republican colleagues. Last year, this bill passed the Senate with a 40 to nothing vote. Last year, we could come to the common sense agreement that guns and alcohol don't mix. Last year, we put the safety of Virginians ahead of a powerful gun lobby and political ambitions.