VIRGINIA, USA — In light of yet another mass shooting, WUSA9 reached out to all 140 Virginia lawmakers in the General Assembly to ask how they would prevent further gun violence.
WUSA9 made the requests following a week-and-a-half of violence in the Commonwealth.
On Tuesday night, an employee walked into the Chesapeake Walmart before shooting and killing six of his coworkers. The gunman ultimately died by suicide.
The “Gun Violence Archive” determined that incident was the third mass shooting to happen in Virginia in ten days.
On November 18th, police found a mother and her three children shot to death in their Chesterfield home.
One day before, a University of Virginia student opened fire on his classmates inside of bus in Charlottesville. The shooting killed three members of the school’s football team.
WUSA9 asked general assembly members: Should lawmakers pass more gun control measures in the upcoming session or not?
Twenty-four of the Virginia Senate’s 40 members provided statements to WUSA9 or commented on the Chesapeake shooting on their social media accounts. Meanwhile, 35 of the Virginia House’s 100 members did the same.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the members’ statements show stark differences in how they would like to fight gun violence in the community. Some are adamant more gun control laws should be passed in the Commonwealth, while others said if someone can figure out how to legislate “evil” out of the “human heart”, they're "all ears."
VA Senator Adam Ebbin discusses gun control.
The words “thoughts” and/or “prayers” are used in 23 members’ written statements in the Virginia House and Senate. The word “control”, in reference to gun control, is used in five statements. The word “legislation” comes up in ten statements. While the word “mental”, in reference to mental health, appears in nine statements.
If you would like to see what your lawmaker had to say about gun violence prevention, zoom and click on the map below. When there, click on you location in Virginia to find your corresponding legislator. If no statement is shown, that means the lawmaker did not provide WUSA9 with a statement or they did not comment on the Chesapeake shooting on Twitter or Facebook.
In 2020, former Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed into law several gun control measures. The bills proposed universal background checks, child restrictions on access to guns, limits on handgun purchases per month, reporting lost or stolen firearms and an extreme risk protective order.
However, Northam's push to ban the sale of assault weapons failed after members of his own party balked at the proposal in committee.
Still, those policy changes came as no surprise after Democrats took over the majority of the statehouse the previous year.
In 2022, when the next session begins, things will be different. Republicans will control both the House of Delegates and the Executive branch.
On Wednesday, Republican House Speaker Todd Gilbert criticized the Democrats gun control efforts of the past.
“The human condition appears more broken all the time. Between 2020-2022, Virginia Democrats enacted some of the staunchest gun control laws in America, knowing it wouldn’t end this type of violence. This year, the General Assembly passed Project Ceasefire to help end gang violence that is rising across Virginia and our nation. The two recent shootings are still under investigation, and we don’t know enough about what happened to know what if any legislative actions would make a difference. That being said, if someone can tell us how to legislate evil out of the human heart without depriving law-abiding citizens of their constitutionally protected rights, then I’m all ears."
Current Republican Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin also declined to speak about gun control proposals when questioned by the media, in Chesapeake, on Wednesday.
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