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Editorial: Your views on Tuesday's General Assembly Special Session

Editorial: Your views on Tuesday's General Assembly Special Session

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The No. 1 law I would like to see passed at the emergency legislative session on guns is universal background checks. Right now citizens legally prohibited from possessing guns —felons, convicted domestic abusers, terrorists, and people who have been committed to a mental hospital against their will — can all easily obtain a firearm. Only federally licensed dealers are required to do background checks.

So prohibited gun buyers can go online to armslist.com and get a gun with no background check, as long as they buy the gun from a private seller, not a federally licensed dealer. Buying a gun online from a private seller (skipping background checks) is easy to do.

Background checks are required online, though, if a firearm is shipped. So prohibited buyers often agree to meet in a parking lot, or anywhere in person, to pick up a gun they purchased online without background checks.

Prohibited users also can obtain a firearm at gun shows with no background checks, again, as long as they purchase the gun from a private seller, not a federally licensed dealer.

Yet Republicans in the Virginia legislature year after year continue to vote against universal background checks, which would require all gun purchases/transfers from private sellers, or federally licensed dealers, to be subject to background checks. Only immediate family members would be able to transfer guns with no background checks.

Universal background checks would protect the public by helping keep guns out of dangerous hands.

Susan Ahern,

Midlothian

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The governor stated that this session is "in response to" the murders in Virginia Beach, yet none of his proposals would have stopped that massacre.

He's stated that he wants "frank and transparent discussions" with the community, yet many of the "roundtables," "community forums," and "town halls" being hosted by his surrogates are, in fact, avenues for a select few to pontificate, and citizens to be preached to. In Hampton, the prior closed session was for friends of gun control only, and the first two rows of seats were reserved for "friends and guests." In Woodbridge, only pre-vetted questions were answered, and then for only 15 minutes.

If this is what our governor sees as a "response" and "frank and transparent discussion," I fear for our commonwealth.

Tess Ailshire,

Alexandria

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My opinion on what measures the General Assembly should take on new firearms laws? None. "Panic legislation" of any kind won't solve a thing. Let me explain why.

I'm 65 years old, and I've seen gun laws around the country ratcheted up since Nov. 22, 1963. I don't have to tell you what happened on that date, I remember it like it was yesterday.

Since all those laws have been passed, things haven't gotten better. They've gotten worse, especially in places like New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan and California, places with the toughest gun laws. They've done no good.

It's not firearms availability that's to blame. It was easier to buy guns in 1950 than it is now. In addition to gun shops, guns could be purchased at hardware stores, general stores and department stores. They could even be mail-ordered, and we didn't have the carnage we have now.

The real question to be asked is what's changed since then? What kind of society have we become? And how do we change that?

Wayne Antoniazzi,

Henrico

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The recent shooting in Virginia Beach that robbed the community of 12 lives is yet another tragedy that has shocked the nation. I can understand the call by community leaders and politicians who want to enforce stricter gun control standards, but feel tougher legislation will not solve this issue. Those who commit these crimes have little regard for the law or the ramifications of their actions.

Rather than strip away constitutional freedoms, we need to teach our young children that guns and gun violence are not tolerable, much the same as we did in the 1990s with anti-smoking campaigns. That gamble is paying dividends today.

With effective education and a legitimate effort by both public and private parties, the culture of firearm abuse can be diminished. This is not an easy task, but a righteous endeavor. Taking away rights and freedoms only puts honest citizens at a disadvantage. Instead of hastily putting together legislation, let’s have an honest conversation and address the root causes of this problem. In the words of Benjamin Franklin “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, Deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” God bless America.

Demetrios C. Axarlis,

Richmond

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Many more people are "armed" with potential deadly weapons while using cellphones and driving, so commonsense legislation mandates banning their use while operating a vehicle.

John and Maude Baltzegar,

Richmond

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Every other developed nation has lessened gun violence through sensible gun safety laws. We must protect our schoolchildren and indeed, all of us by banning high-capacity magazines and assault-type weapons, improving background checks, including at gun shows and private sales, and limiting the amount of guns that can be purchased in a month.

Patricia Barth,

Charlottesville

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As a Virginian, a gun violence prevention advocate, and a person who lives with mental illness, I demand that our leaders focus on real solutions without blaming mental illness for gun violence. Research shows mental illness is not a significant risk factor for interpersonal violence. In fact, people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. If policymakers really want to address our gun violence epidemic, they should address easy access to dangerous weapons. They should focus on disarming domestic abusers.

They should work to pass an extreme risk law, which would allow family members and law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from people behaving dangerously. There are many productive steps the General Assembly can take to stop gun violence in the commonwealth — but blaming mental illness isn’t one of them.

Bryan Barks,

Alexandria

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The tragedy at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center fits an all too familiar pattern — yet another mass shooting in a place the victims were banned from carrying guns. It’s not a coincidence that the attack occurred in a public building filled with public employees prohibited from carrying handguns, concealed or otherwise.

This attack could have ended with much less bloodshed. Kate Nixon, a compliance manager at the municipal center, was concerned about a co-worker and spoke with her husband the night before the attack about taking her permitted, concealed carry handgun to work. However, unlike the killer who ignored the ban, Nixon obeyed the rule, and she was one of the 12 people murdered.

Ninety-eight percent of mass public shootings since 1950 have occurred in gun-free zones.

Police are essential, but they can’t be everywhere. Even if we could station an officer in every building, time and again we’ve seen shooters target them first. By contrast, concealed carry means would-be shooters don’t know who is armed. Permit holders are incredibly law-abiding and stopped dozens of attacks that would have otherwise been mass public shootings.

Further restricting gun ownership by law-abiding Virginians is precisely the opposite lesson that should take from this tragedy.

State Sen. Dick Black, R-Loudoun

John R. Lott Jr., president, Crime Prevention Research Center

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What I want to know is why we keep going after the rights of law-abiding citizens. Should we not focus more on mental health, and enforcing the laws we already have on the book. Those are the areas I believe we should start with.

For example, most people who fail a background check are never taken a second look at or pursued for a gun crime violation. The same goes for attempted or suspected straw purchasers. Instead, the governor seems to want to treat law-abiding citizens as criminals, until they prove themselves innocent.

Also, most criminals, who create most non-suicide gun deaths, get their guns through illegal means. These new laws are not going to stop them. Criminals do not obey the laws, especially when those laws get in their way. But that is common nowadays. The criminals seem to be treated better than those who support the laws, and that is a shame.

Freddy Boisseau,

S. Chesterfield

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In my experience as a detective in law enforcement and a private investigator for a combined 42 years, I have investigated numerous firearm gun deaths from homicide and suicide to accidental shootings. This shows me that the only new gun control law that has any chance of success is serious mandatory incarceration time for anyone caught in illegal possession of a firearm, and even that probably will not work.

All of the firearm homicides that have occurred are already in violation of a serious crime called murder. Does anyone but the most naive person think that if someone is willing to commit the crime of murder, making it illegal to have a firearm will cause them to say to themselves, "Oh, it’s illegal for me to have a gun so I cannot go buy one off the street”?

Every new proposed gun law is a law that will make people not in the know about this subject "feel safe." It actually does nothing but subject legal gun owners to unnecessary restrictions and could actually make them less safe. This special session is an election year show by the governor who is attempting to draw attention away from his political problems.

Volpe Boykin,

Carrsville

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The governor claims a desire to pass "commonsense public safety laws.” Nonsense. To score political points he would disarm citizens, stripping them of their Second Amendment rights. If the governor wanted to pass "commonsense public safety laws,” he would study the excellent scientific work done by John Lott and the Crime Prevention Research Center. They demonstrate that ownership of firearms by private citizens leads to lower crime rates; concealed carry permits holders are very rarely involved in crime; and that gun bans always result in increased crime rates.

One only needs to open his eyes to the fact that cities with strict gun laws, such as Chicago, Washington and Baltimore, are some of the most violent in the country. Arguments that countries with strict gun control laws prove effective also ignore the facts.

According to the latest research, Switzerland and Israel have much higher gun ownership rates than the U.S., experience far fewer homicides and lower violent crime rates than European nations with strict gun control.

Australia’s frequently heralded National Firearms Agreement, disarming citizens, resulted in both armed and unarmed robbery rates increasing markedly in the five years following implementation of the law, despite the downward trend experienced in other developed countries. Gun control laws do not prevent crime. They simply prevent citizens from defending themselves and others when crimes do occur.

Steve Brannon,

Stephenson

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Stop infringing on the Second Amendment. Let good people be able to defend themselves as the amendment was written and intended.

Remove gun-free zones. They only improve the chance of an evil person injuring or killing more innocent people. When bad things happen, the police (good guys and girls) with guns are always called to respond to try to stop the problem. Let citizens hold their own in the meantime.

Promote responsible gun safety and handling by supporting such training in public schools. This was done regularly back in the 1970s. Enforce the current laws on the books and hold people accountable and responsible for their actions. We don’t really need any more laws. We need to enforce the ones we have.

Promote better mental health care and options to try to get these issues addressed before they get to the point of violence as best you can. There are no guarantees in life, so each person should take an active part in his own protection. Do not expect the government or anyone else to look out for you every minute of every day. They can’t and they have no legal obligation to do so either.

Trice Burgess,

Fairfax

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What? You want more gun laws that endanger the good people? Remember, outlaws and bad people by definition do not obey the law. So you want to stop good people who have been vetted by local and state law enforcement to stop carrying guns to protect themselves from violence? Hmmm, let’s think about this. A bad person points a gun at you in a crowded room or in a remote section of a public park.

Do you want to: (A) make a 911 call and wait three to 15 minutes for a police response, or (B) reach in your pocket or purse and defend yourself or hope the closest person to you is a good guy with a gun that will defend you? Easy answer, most of your constituents would pick “B.”

You want more laws because you are a politician and that’s what you think we want you to do. OK, let’s bring back mandatory sentencing if you get caught with a gun and you are not supposed to have one. Make a longer mandatory sentence if that gun is used in a crime. No room in the jails? Make that mandatory civil service and if you don’t show up to work your sentence, then you go to jail. Leave the good gun owners alone.

H. Penn Burke,

Richmond

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I sincerely hope that the legislators make sure gun safety bills are actually debated and voted on by the entire General Assembly, as these are serious issues that deserve serious debate and consideration. And as voters we deserve to know where each legislator stands. I would like the General Assembly to pass universal background checks so checks are done for all sales, bans on assault weapons, bump stocks, high-capacity magazines and silencers; requirements for safe gun storage; a law allowing for risk protection orders; and reinstatement of one-gun-a-month limit.

Kristen Calleja,

Midlothian

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We classify, inventory, regulate and report on cars, toys and birth control. Don’t tell me we can’t do it for guns. This does not take away the right to own a gun and is not invasive or counter to the Second Amendment. It is past time for Virginia to come to grips with two mass shootings and make some changes to our gun laws. I would like to see all of this without any hidden agenda items within the bill. Pass it clean.

The older generation might have walked up the hill 5 miles in the cold to school, but this generation is having to hide under desks while their classmates die around them. Which one is more disruptive to learning? Which one could cause PTSD? Do something for them. Stop being selfish.

Karen Causey,

Virginia Beach

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In the wake of shootings at a city building in Virginia Beach and at a Richmond park, we are again reminded that we must do more to end gun violence. We are putting our children, and our entire community, at risk by allowing firearms in city-owned public spaces. Keeping dangerous firearms out of sensitive places will help prevent gun violence, and localities should have the right to enact commonsense gun laws that will keep their communities safe.

Because Virginia’s pre-emption law prohibits cities and towns from passing local laws governing the possession or carrying of firearms, local leaders — who best understand the challenges their communities face — are left powerless to pursue new policies to combat gun violence in their cities.

During the July 9 special session, our lawmakers should untie the hands of local leaders and repeal laws that prevent localities from passing many types of commonsense gun laws. And they should go even further by passing statewide gun safety laws, like requiring background checks on all gun sales, Extreme Risk Protection Orders and bans on large-capacity magazines and silencers.

Courtney Champion,

Group Lead, RVA Moms Demand Action

Glen Allen

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“Are medications stored securely? If you own a gun, is the gun locked?” This is the template pediatricians follow to ask about home safety hazards. We often have been told, “my daughter knows not to touch my gun” or “my gun isn’t locked, but they don’t know where it is.”

However, personal experience and data show this is not the case. We have seen teens attempt suicide by trying to use a gun in the home. Fortunately, in one case, the child was stopped because the gun was safely locked. By securing his gun, that parent saved his child’s life. Approximately 40% of all firearm-related deaths in Virginia were suicides of 10- to 19-year olds.

In response, the Virginia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics developed the Virginia Mental Health Access Program to provide better access to mental health treatment in doctor’s offices. We also know that toxic stress from witnessing or experiencing gun violence has serious health and mental health consequences.

As pediatricians, we work for effective public policy, including preventing childhood injuries and deaths from guns, but we do not want to take away anyone’s Second Amendment rights.

Sandy L. Chung, M.D.,

President, Virginia Chapter

American Academy of Pediatrics

Rachel V. Knuth, M.D.

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On July 9, I hope our state legislature can pass commonsense gun laws like universal background checks, and a ban on bump stocks and assault weapons. These are weapons of war, with no use on city streets. Our hunters do not need these kinds of weapons and neither do we when we are defending our homes. I am a native Richmonder who grew up with guns. I know how to handle them and what kind of damage they can do to humans and animals. Our Founding Fathers did not have assault rifles in mind when they wanted to have an armed citizen militia. The guns of that time were rifles and single-fire muskets, which make more sense for protection.

I hope they can get legislation passed for gun safety now. If not after the awful shooting in Virginia Beach, then when is it the right time? The right time for change is now.

Mattie Coll,

Richmond

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These things are certain, for the foreseeable future: There will continue to be senseless murders in Virginia and elsewhere, murders committed with and without firearms, and overgrown governments everywhere will try to disarm their own citizens. The proposed equipment bans have been proved ineffective and background checks restrict normal transfers such as from father to son or friend to friend and create government registries for all involved firearms, clearly a move to gun registration. Gun registration is a sure step on the road to confiscation, just as it has been in Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Many Americans own firearms for hunting and recreation, but those are not the purpose of the Second Amendment. The Founding Fathers were confident that the strongest obstacle to a tyrannical government was an armed citizenry. In the 20th century, more than 100 million citizens were murdered by their own governments. Today, no one needs to look further than the Middle East or Africa to find nations currently at war with their own citizens. And yes, it can happen here.

I would suggest that Virginians concerned with their freedom demand the commonwealth promote and protect its citizens’ right to bear arms as it has for more than three centuries.

Prentiss Davis,

Midlothian

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Our representatives should pass measures that actually protect Virginians. Universal background checks and a limit on monthly purchases would be small improvements, but are not enough. There is no credible argument for citizens to be armed with assault weapons, high-capacity magazines or suppressors, except for hunting other humans. This is something all our representatives should oppose, but, sadly, they do not. Red flag legislation to stop those people with mental health issues, domestic violence incidents or pending criminal charges from purchasing weapons also is needed.

Requiring gun locks and/or locked storage for weapons could help reduce those tragic incidents where a gun gets into the hands of a household member. Lastly, we should not be known as the pipeline for illegal guns to New York — it perpetuates others’ view of Virginia as a backward, gun-toting state that has weak gun laws because its citizens would rather have criminals running guns or using them to kill other citizens than restrictions to stop them.

Molly Dearing,

Roanoke

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The following is a short list of my expectations for the special session:

1.Ban large-capacity magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds and silencers.

2. Implement a 14-day waiting period after background check.

3. Restrict gun purchases to one every 60 days; limit the total number of guns a person may purchase.

4. Restrict gun sales to anyone found guilty of a violent crime.

5. Implement Extreme Risk Protection Orders.

6. Disarm all domestic abusers regardless of their relationship to the accuser, including individuals convicted of misdemeanor stalking and subject to a temporary restraining orders.

7. Implement a safe gun storage requirement where owners are held legally responsible if they do not maintain proper measures for security and a shooting occurs.

8. Pass universal background check.

9. Require a background check for anyone purchasing ammunition, with a limit on the amount that can be purchased.

10. Require certification of safety training initially at purchase and once every five years.

11. Raise the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21.

12. Offer incentives for those who want to turn in guns.

13. Implement a large tax on guns and ammunition; money would go to mental health services and gun safety education.

Jennifer Deegan,

Salem

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If Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposals were “commonsense public safety,” calling a special session would not be necessary. In fact, they are not common sense and would not promote public safety. The proposals are stale, having been debated in the General Assembly and discussed in public forums on many occasions. Not coming before the entire assembly does not mean they haven’t been considered.

The proposals would be ineffective if made law. There’s not a scintilla of evidence that they will do anything constructive or prevent a horror like Virginia Beach. Many of these proposals are already law in other states and cities and have not worked. The proposals are politically opportunistic, a broad wish list of leftist agenda items that follow every tragedy, leveraging emotion without addressing a single identifiable contributing cause of the tragedy.

A proposal that can objectively and rationally be seen as a real solution to mass murder by firearm, like eliminating gun-free zones, and that doesn’t negatively and disproportionately impact those of us who chose to exercise our rights, would receive broad support during regular session. That is not the case with these proposals and the governor’s agenda should be swiftly rejected.

William T. Dessent,

Kents Store

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I am opposed to just about all private gun ownership. However, I recognize that we live in a society that requires compromise. In corresponding with gun rights advocates, we have found some common ground: eliminate semi- and automatic weapons, as well as silencers, bump stocks and such accessories. Though this falls far short of what I would like to see, I am willing to compromise.

Margaret DeTar-Lavallee,

Smithfield

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The U.S. has almost twice the number of guns per person (1.21) than the next contender for that dubious title; Virginia has a similar distinction among states. While this is a gold rush for the weapons industry, citizens are most certainly not safer for it.

In addition to Gov. Ralph Northam’s commonsense proposals (e.g., outlawing the outrageous sale of silencers — 44,012 in 2015), laws should require that any gun sold, lost or stolen be reported to police. Otherwise, the original purchasers should be held accountable for crimes committed with their weapons. This could help to quell off-the-books sales and enable law enforcement to track guns used in crimes while reducing Virginia’s notoriety as a conduit for illicit weapons. The number of firearms manufactured is rising while the number of licensed dealers has dropped.

Sensible gun safety bills have not been allowed out of committee for a floor vote in recent sessions, potentially abetting multiple unnecessary deaths. Legislators must develop consciences, put aside their dependence on gun lobbyists, and take responsibility for the safety of all of their constituents.Voters also must hold candidates accountable in November.

Virginia S. Dopp,

Williamsburg

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The legislative session should pass Constitutional carry; eliminate gun-free zones aka target-rich zones; remove restrictions on suppressors; and permit educators to carry a handgun if they have a concealed handgun permit

Henry Dowgielewicz,

Monroe

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I firmly believe the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights is the most important section, bar none. Without the means to protect one’s self from evil people or a tyrannical government even the right to free speech is only as good as the government deems to allow, as evidenced by political correctness and the resulting focused laws.

Guns are not the problem, but destruction of the family unit and the relaxation of individual responsibility are the root cause of most murders worldwide. In a welfare state, which we are tumbling headlong into, there is no incentive to excel, only to angst about the next government handout. Dilution of the population by illegal immigrants who have no wish to assimilate further strengthens my argument. No more gun laws are needed.

Norm Eby,

Mechanicsville

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Born during World War II to immigrant parents, I grew up in the free America of the 1950s. I spent 31 years in the military, taking an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” I am saddened to see those rights I fought for, particularly the Second Amendment, under constant attack by Gov. Ralph Northam and his cabal of “progressive” Democrat apparatchiks in the legislature. They will not be satisfied until we are turned from free citizens — responsible for our actions and able to defend ourselves and families — into subjects of a benevolent government that will direct us in the ways that are “best” for us.

The “commonsense” firearms restrictions pushed by the governor will not have any effect on the actions of evil or mentally deranged people. They will only serve to further disarm law-abiding citizens. Isn’t murder already illegal and weren’t the buildings in Virginia Beach gun-free zones? These are perfect examples of laws not deterring evildoers.

No, the real reason is free, armed citizens can’t be controlled by power-hungry politicians like Northam. The first step to tyranny and eventually genocide is disarmament — ask the Jews, Cambodians and Ugandans.

John D. Edgar,

Stafford

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There is little doubt in my mind that my fellow Virginians agree gun crime ought to be taken seriously. For that reason, I cannot support Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposed measures.

If Northam and the General Assembly are serious about curbing gun crime, they should realize none of the proposed measures would prevent future attacks. Rather, they make it more difficult for law-abiding gun owners, like myself, to protect ourselves and also infringe on our constitutional rights.

Paraphrasing gun expert Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper, these shooters clearly do not fear the police or imprisonment, therefore, they must be taught to fear their victims. As a 30-year-old woman shy of 5’3”, I’m far from a person to be feared. However, in the face of dangerous situation where I’m at a physical disadvantage, my firearm gives me a fighting chance.

To the governor and the General Assembly: What is it about these new measures that would suddenly change the hearts and minds of those with the intention to kill? None of these measures would’ve prevented the Virginia Beach tragedy. Should we not focus our attention on legislation that would protect citizens, such as removing “gun-free zones” and installing metal detectors in our school entrances?

Laura Falcon,

Arlington

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When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Americans have a right to own firearms for self-defense, Justice Antonin Scalia and his colleagues specifically singled out government buildings as a sensitive place where guns could be banned. Among the items the special session will address is more local regulation of firearms, including in government buildings and perhaps at parks, permitted rallies and other public venues.

One of the bills defeated last session was one letting local governments ban guns in libraries. This initiative is personal to me: My parents were librarians, and I worked in high school and college libraries as a student. I, as a teenager, wouldn't feel safe working someplace, with children and families in particular, where members of the public could be armed, and my bosses couldn't do anything about it.

I've never browsed the stacks thumbing through books and thought, "Gee, if I only had a gun." I hope lawmakers feel the same way.

Mike Fox,

Crozet

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It is time to ban the purchase of assault weapons, ban bump stocks and silencers, ban high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, enact a red flag law, require that people make a police report when their guns are stolen, and require universal background checks for all gun purchases and for persons working in gun shops. These are sensible gun safety measures that the majority of Virginians (Republicans, Democrats and independents) and responsible gun owners want. It is important that these bills be brought to a floor vote. With the gun violence and loss of life we have seen in Virginia — mass shootings, suicides, etc. — we need sensible gun safety laws.

Judith E. Freeman,

Charlottesville

In the wake of the Virginia Beach shootings, measures should be taken to ensure law-abiding citizens have the ability to arm themselves with firearms and defend against any would-be shooter. Lawmakers should be proponents of private citizens obtaining proper firearms and concealed carry training, and maintaining proficiency so they can safely carry wherever they go.

None of Gov. Ralph Northam's proposed bans have any relation to gun safety. Commonsense gun safety includes proper training and maintaining firearm proficiency. Any bans put law-abiding citizens at a disadvantage in a deadly confrontation since it will be harder for them to obtain defensive firearms. This might make sense if we also could disarm the police and military, and every other nation in the world, but, of course, this is implausible.

Justin Fu,

Alexandria

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There’s only one reason for the special session: passing commonsense gun laws. The U.S. Constitution permits regulating high-capacity magazines, bump stocks and other dangerous modifications to firearms. Universal background checks will reduce criminal access to weapons. We need a cultural change away from anger and violence.

David Garth,

Charlottesville

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I do not support any more gun control. It wouldn’t have prevented anything at the Virginia Beach shooting. This man had to have passed an extreme FBI check and paid a $200 to fee purchase a suppressor. Suppressors already are heavily regulated by the National Firearms Act.

Second why are you supporting an assault weapons ban? They were not used at Virginia Beach. Why do you want to limit magazine capacity? Then-Gov. Tim Kaine’s study after the Virginia Tech shooting said it would have made no difference.

You claim you would like to prevent suicides. If a person really wants to die, they will accomplish that act.

All I see in Gov. Ralph Northam’s scheme is him trying to disarm law-abiding citizens. He should be supporting better mental health laws, and I do not mean a red flag law where a person’s firearms are taken without having a day in court.

Every person who commits heinous crimes such as mass shootings is mentally deranged. Murder is against the law; has that stopped anyone? Project Exile worked.

Gregory Gay,

Chesterfield

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I am glad the governor is concerned with public safety, but I believe the solution is less intuitive than a simple ban. None of the governor's proposed measures would have prevented the recent tragedy in Virginia Beach, nor will it prevent future tragedies.

Commonsense statement: There will never be a time when everyone says, "There are already enough gun restrictions," despite a recent mass shooting.

Commonsense statement: As long as any guns exist, whatsoever, there will be shootings and people who attempt mass shootings.

Commonsense statement: Good people who choose not to own firearms feel safer with any and all firearm restrictions (no matter how extensive or how ineffective).

Commonsense statement: Good people who choose to own firearms feel safer being allowed to have them wherever it might be necessary.

My opinion is this: Since the problem can't be fixed until you can effectively legislate away all evil, allow law-abiding people to defend their lives in their workplaces. Let's be transparent: Gun bans do less to "catch" people who would commit the extremely immoral (and illegal) act of murder and more to "catch" and punish people who happen to posses the wrong kind of gun, which is not immoral in and of itself (aside from the fact it had been banned).

Don't just feel safer, be safer, and allow citizens to lawfully conceal carry in their workplaces.

Adam Gifford,

Pulaski

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As a 15-year holder of a concealed carry permit, I support the Second Amendment right to bear arms. I feel the problem behind gun violence is a lack of legislation for better mental health care reform. I have never heard of a gun wounding or killing someone without a person firing the weapon. Responsible, experienced gun owners support safe gun use and should not be penalized by legislation that will have no effect on illegal, or mentally-ill persons wanting to use a firearm to harm.

Gun owners like myself obtain our guns legally, but guns are easily obtained illegally by those who use them to rob, hurt, or kill. My husband and I, our sons and grandsons, and many gun owning friends enjoy target shooting, skeet and hunting without incident. There is a lot of violence in today's world, but it is not caused by legal gun owners who learn how to use firearms carefully and with respect for their power to harm. We also know that we have the right to protect ourselves and our families from those who do not value life as much as we do. I hope our General Assembly members take our views and rights into consideration when they meet.

Martha (Marty) Gilbert,

Rockville

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Abandon more gun control laws. These only prevent law-abiding citizens from being able to protect themselves. Allow citizens with conceal carry permits to protect themselves everywhere, including their workplace and government buildings.

Mitsy Good,

Bentonville

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Politics as usual! The governor's proposals would not, and will not, stop gun-related massacres. He is controlling 5% of the population that statistically are the safest people on the planet. Concealed handgun permit holders (CHP) are not the problem.

CHP holders have no problem with reasonable gun laws, but those proposed by the governor are neither realistic nor reasonable. Those who have passed the strict background check required to purchase handguns, rifles or shotguns shouldn't be subject to a plethora of restrictions.

To help solve the violence problem in the state, offer better mental health resources, allow threatened people to get a protective firearm and CHP quickly, allow volunteer teachers/administrators to carry concealed guns in schools, and allow CHP holders to carry in ALL public buildings.

When criminals or agitated people know there are concealed defensive firearms where they plan to attack, they will think again and maybe decide to do something else that day.

Bill Graves,

Henrico

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I do not believe in private gun ownership other than for hunters, who do not need handguns or automatic weapons. Mass shootings are frightening and overwhelming, but why are those individuals as a group more important than the little girl accidentally killed in a Richmond park on Memorial Day? Our lawmakers need to start somewhere. Thorough background checks, banning assault weapons, suppressors, bump stocks and high-capacity magazines are at least a start. I know we will never prevent Americans from owning guns, but at least require lawmakers to take sensible action to show they really care.

Nancy Grove,

Emporia

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More gun laws will not stop murders. Virginia has speed limit laws. Have these laws stopped drivers from speeding on Chippenham Parkway? Restraining orders do not prevent criminals from killing the person who requested the order.

On Feb. 14, 2018, accused gunman Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas School in Parkland, Fla. Police did not immediately enter the school to stop the killings. A school shooting on May 16, 2018, at Dixon High School in Dixon, Ill., had a different outcome. A school resource officer intervened after the shooter had shot two people. The resource officer prevented more people from being shot. A good man with a gun stopped a bad man with a gun from shooting more people.

Virginia's schools are gun-free zone. Did the gun-free zone protect the students at Virginia Tech? People with mental health issues are prevented from owning guns. Virginia Tech knew that Seung-Hui Cho had mental health issues two years before he killed 32 people. The law requires that schools immediately notify students when shootings occur on campus. Cho had killed two people hours before the notice was announced and shortly before he started his rampage.

Wes Harman,

Chesterfield

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Simply stated, no law ever prevented a crime.

The tragedy at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center might have been mitigated if the people working there had been able to defend themselves instead of waiting for the police to arrive and deliver the fatal shot. The regulation denying them their right to defend themselves was partially to blame for the horrific number of people killed in this criminal act.

To think that denying this villain the right to own a gun would have prevented a tragedy is naive. He would just have found another way to commit this horrific act. By denying law abiding citizens the right to own guns actually lets the criminal do as they like.

Woodrow Henderson Jr.

Arlington

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If we would only enforce the myriad laws already on the books, that would be a start. No new laws will do better. As a California transplant, I can tell you firsthand this is true. The government should not be in the business of trying to control our lives, but instead of finding ways to enhance our lives. It is a crying shame our career politicians have forgotten the reason our Constitution was written the way it was.

Phillip R. Henderson,

Stafford

The special session is political grandstanding at its finest. The governor has shown that he is not a leader looking for meaningful solutions. He can’t run for re-election so it costs him nothing politically to tee up his party with an election year hot-button issue. He is a hardcore partisan angling to ram the worst of the worst anti-freedom legislation down the throats of his fellow Virginians because it’s politically expedient to kick dirt on anyone who disagrees with him.

I believe that criminal violence — all of it, not just crimes perpetrated while using a firearm — is rooted in poverty, poor education, lack of economic opportunity and, generally, a dearth of hope for the future.

Democrats need to stop blaming the people who did not commit the crime, and Republicans need to get serious about investing money in poor and underserved communities. There’s got to be a way to make inroads in a fiscally sound way (i.e., not handouts or wealth redistribution schemes). I wish I could broker some of these discussions, but I’m not naïve. I don’t have money and I don’t have political clout, and this the only currency that both parties understand. Larry Hodges,

Richmond

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Virginia courts businesses and tourism and touts their universities of higher education. Yet the headlines undercut that message. Virginia is home to mass shootings that break records, with Virginia Tech at one time known as “the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history” and Virginia Beach as “the worst shooting spree of 2019.”

The strength of gun laws matter and Virginia’s are the weakest. Virginia has been ranked third in the export of crime guns, according to ATF firearm traces. Our legislators have tried thoughts and prayers. Now it’s time to strengthen our laws including background checks on each gun purchase, red flag laws, mandatory reporting for lost and stolen firearms, domestic violence protective orders and child access prevention laws.

Ruth Hoffman,

Arlington

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Among first-world countries, the U.S. ranks right near, if not at, the top for deaths by guns. More guns do not make us safer. It should be more difficult to get a gun, and anyone who gets one should have to take a class on gun safety. Guns kill, pure and simple, and more guns, especially when they're high-capacity, kill more people. When will enough be enough?

Charlotte Hollings,

Lancaster

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Guns have been a part of my life since I received a BB gun at age 10; then a .22-caliber rifle in my teens. As a U.S. Army infantry soldier, I was assigned my own M14 rifle and later an M16 “assault” rifle. I also fired Army .45-caliber pistols, M60 and .50-caliber machine guns, grenade launchers and anti-tank weapons. I purchased a .38 Smith & Wesson handgun and obtained a concealed carry permit, which requires background checks, competency on written tests and demonstrated accurate shooting.

Guns do not magically hop into the hands of unsuspecting people, drag that person to where people are congregated, and kill them. The common trait of every mass shooter is mental illness. No sane person wants to kill innocent people, such as the 32 at Virginia Tech or 12 in Virginia Beach. More state funding for mental health intervention must be a priority. Virginia should require a registry of handguns and hold accountable those found with an unregistered handgun. This alone will not solve the problem, but it is a start. Over time as confiscated handguns are traced, law enforcement will gain better insights as to their source.

Robert N. Holt,

Franklin

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I agree with all items that Gov. Ralph Northam is proposing in reference to gun control measures, and I think a majority of Americans are in favor of these common sense measures — universal background checks, ban assault weapons, limit magazines to 10 rounds, ban bump stocks, ban silencers, and impose a one-gun-a-month limit. Additionally, establish a new law that would restrict inheriting a gun or gun collection without a mandatory background check.

Trying to prevent or reduce deadly shootings should not be such a difficult, disputed and contentious issue.

Greg Holzgrefe,

Richmond

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The Second Amendment to our Constitution addresses “...the right of the people to keep and bear Arms.” Since “Arms” of the day consisted pretty much of muskets, I suggest we all have the right to have a musket, maybe a couple. A simple background check would be all that is needed.

June Hoye,

Henrico

As a strong supporter of the Second Amendment in deep-blue Arlington, I'm asking the General Assembly to reject Gov. Ralph Northam's attempt to restrict our right to keep and bear arms.

Time and time again, gun laws are enacted under the guise of "public safety," but what they do in reality is keep law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves, their families and their communities during times of tragedy.

I know where my lawmakers in Arlington stand on the right to keep and bear arms. They'll vote for anything that strips law-abiding citizens of their right of self-defense, leaving them helpless when tragedy strikes. I hope members of the General Assembly who are on the fence err against disarming Virginians.

Matthew Hurtt,

Arlington

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Gov. Ralph Northam's "commonsense public safety laws" restricting rapid-fire guns and magazines go halfway. The other half is to make simple possession of them a prison offense.

Ernest Irby,

Henrico

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Our hope and prayer is that members of the General Assembly will set aside any purely partisan issues to make the commonwealth a safer place. After the slaughter of innocents in Virginia Beach, Blacksburg, Charlottesville and Richmond’s Carter Jones Park, there’s no doubt that the spread of high-powered weapons is a threat to our lives and to the state of our overall peace and security.

Lawmakers have the power and the duty to do something to restore peace. Start by banning assault weapons, bump stocks, high-capacity magazines — long-overdue measures that even police organizations support. Most people back universal background checks. Outlaw guns in public places and schools, too.

Teachers should not carry guns. After the security guard for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was indicted for shirking his duty, what would happen in an elementary school if a teacher sheltered in place and didn’t run out into the hall to try to shoot an intruder? We won’t protect our schools by turning them into armed camps.

Our lawmakers owe us the chance to live in peace and security. If New Zealand can enact laws to make a safer world — why not Virginia?

Debbie and Chip Jones,

Henrico

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Following the tragic Virginia Beach shooting, a Charlottesville elementary school teacher told me she wants legislators to experience a school lockdown drill to convince them to act to prevent gun violence. As part of the drill, she takes her students to the restroom and stands against the door so if shots are fired, the bullets would hit her before the children. She also keeps a file cabinet by the classroom’s front door so she can knock it over to block an active shooter from entering the room.

Americans shouldn’t have to live in fear like this. On July 9, Virginia has an opportunity to make our communities safer. There’s no single solution that will stop all shootings, and some say we can't completely fix the issue so we shouldn’t do anything at all. I couldn't disagree more. We didn’t completely eliminate auto deaths by requiring seatbelts and airbags, but we saved countless lives. There are meaningful steps we can and must take — like universal background checks and magazine limits — to help prevent more Virginians from experiencing the unimaginable pain of losing a loved one. I hope lawmakers will come together this month to pass commonsense reforms to reduce gun violence.

U.S. Sen. Timothy M. Kaine, D-Va.

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Like many legal gun owners, I’m appalled at how many senseless gun-involved deaths occur each year. I’m also galled by the inaction on the part of, well, everyone, to do something about them. Gun rights activists want everyone to have guns as that will make us safer because “only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with one.” The anti-gun folks want all guns taken away as if the problem were simply guns.

Gov. Ralph Northam has called a special session of the legislature to debate some very specific bills that he, and others, think will reduce gun violence because we all should be tired of offering “thoughts and prayers.”

Who is correct here? The answer is no one knows for sure. And that’s the real problem we’re facing. Everyone wants to react based on their gut instincts rather than factual data, on rhetoric rather than science.

If we really want to reduce gun deaths, we need to parse all the data that exists in law enforcement reports from the past 40 years and determine the root cause wherever possible. By determining a factual root cause, answers will emerge about how to attack the problem. And that can lead to real solutions, and perhaps intelligent legislation, for reducing gun deaths.

Brian Keller,

Richmond

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If the July 9 General Assembly wants to reduce violence committed with guns, they should forget about gun control (criminals will ignore whatever laws they pass) and pass the following laws:

1. Make life in prison without the possibility of parole the mandatory sentence for criminals who are convicted of using a firearm in the commission of their crime. The criminals’ action has proved they cannot own/use a firearm responsibly regardless of their reasons. There will be no repeat offenders.

2. Provide legal protection from criminal and civil lawsuits to law-abiding citizens who use a firearm in defense of themselves and/or others. They are the true first responders. Already on scene, they might be able to limit the damage and are more likely to do so when the threat of future legal action is removed.

Paul Knapik,

Glen Allen

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I am a gun owner. I purchased my guns legally, and they are registered. I would gladly give up my weapons if it meant sensible gun laws would be enacted.

However, something has to be done to stop the senseless killing that goes on every week. We are inundated with useless murder of innocent people. Therefore, we need to pass commonsense gun laws.

• There should be a waiting period to purchase a long gun or handgun.

• Automatic weapons should be outlawed.

• Individuals convicted of a violent crime or crime with a gun should be prohibited from owning a firearm.

• Domestic abusers should be prohibited from gun ownership

• There should be a national gun registry.

• Mental health treatment programs must be expanded.

• Conflict resolution programs should be instituted at the elementary school level.

• Gun owners should be required to take a gun safety course.

• Offenders who commit crimes with a gun should have an additional minimum sentence.

• A second gun offense should carry a life imprisonment sentence.

• A state gun authority should be established to recommend additional programs and statutes.

Frank J. Kober,

Heathsville

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Deadly gunshots ring out daily in the commonwealth as background noise. Even the most dedicated advocates close our eyes and ears to many of the shots and subsequent screams. Seeing three violent deaths a day is too emotionally crushing. In the special session, we must see that the Virginia Beach and Virginia Tech shooters were both gunmen. The sprayer of bullets in the park that killed 9-year-old Markiya Dickson was a gunman.

A gunman threatened to come to Roanoke Women’s March events. Gunmen terrorized Charlottesville. We are awash in gunmen, while “gunwoman” is not even a word in the dictionary. During the special session, gunmen will say their guns will only be “pried from their cold dead hands.” Two of the three Virginians who die by gunshot wound that day will be gun suicides. We must hear the screams of the devastated family and friends who find these mens' bodies, cold, gun in hand. We must finally see this supposedly universal right to wield guns for self-defense is an industry lie, sold overwhelmingly to men.

Catherine Koebel,

Roanoke

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I am very grateful that Gov. Ralph Northam has called for a special session on gun violence. I firmly believe the commonwealth can do far more to protect Virginians from gun violence with sensible gun laws. Specifically, I'd love to see universal background checks, a law that would limit gun purchases to a single gun a month, an assault weapon ban, regulations that would require gun owners to lock up their guns safely to ensure that children cannot access them, Extreme Risk Protective Orders (or red flag laws), and finally, rules to ensure that domestic abusers don't have access to firearms. These are policies that the majority of Virginians (from both parties) support, but because the NRA and the Virginia Citizens' Defense League have a lock on the GOP votes, I am pessimistic that we'll see these sensible reforms. But I continue to hope for reason and logic in Richmond.

Beth Kreydatus,

Richmond

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The special session is an opportunistic action by an administration under fire. It is well-known by those following the issue that not a single proposal from the governor's office would have prevented the tragedy. We don't need more gun control or unconstitutional red-flag laws; rather, we need better mental health protocols and greater flexibility for citizens to defend themselves from predators.

Jim Kuypers,

Christiansburg

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Gun violence has become a public health crisis in Virginia, but it is an epidemic that we know how to treat. Stronger gun laws won’t prevent all senseless acts of violence, but they will save lives. The proposals already exist. We have seen them from the governor. We need legislation to ensure background checks on all gun sales; to cap handgun sales to one a month; to ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and sound suppressors that let mass shooters take victims by surprise; to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and people at risk of harming themselves or others; and to expand local authority to regulate firearms. On July 9 during the special session, legislators in the Virginia General Assembly have the opportunity to pass these life-saving measures. If they truly care about the people of the commonwealth, they will.

Martina Leinz,

Burke

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It’s difficult to imagine when driving drunk carried no stigma and no legal consequences, but that was the reality just a few decades ago. In the near future, we could say the same about firearm purchases without background checks, unlocked guns accessible to children and guns in the hands of proven, convicted domestic abusers.

Candace Lightner lost her daughter to a drunken driver in 1980, spurring her to found Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). When she began her activism, driving while impaired was not illegal in some states, with 21,000 Americans killed annually by drunken drivers. Now 40 years later, that death toll is cut in half.

The national movement to stop gun deaths is this generation’s MADD. Virginians overwhelmingly support safety measures like universal background checks, mandating safe gun storage and prohibiting convicted domestic abusers from owning guns. What Virginians lack is lawmakers with the legislative courage. That can all change Nov. 5. All 40 Senate seats and 100 House of Delegates seats are up for re-election. Just like with MADD, Virginia voters are determined to change Virginia’s dangerous gun laws or change Virginia’s lawmakers. They should know the status quo is no longer an option for Virginia.

Robyn Lowry,

Midlothian

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Gov. Ralph Northam is to be praised for calling the special session, which should simply take guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals. If a person is on a no fly list, has been hospitalized for trauma, can't differentiate between a bazooka and a handgun, or has previously been imprisoned for the illegal use of a gun, then legislation is needed immediately. We don't need to pray about it more; now is the time to act before more people of all ages are

slaughtered by war weapons that are being left on sales tables to be spread on the open market.

Robert T. Mansker,

Randolph W. Butler,

Falls Church

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I applaud Gov. Ralph Northam’s calling of the special session to pass commonsense public safety laws. The Republicans usually say “now is not the time” after a mass shooting. What better time to enact every proposal suggested? First of all, no one needs an assault weapon! Can’t we discuss these ideas, many that have been around for years, with the hope that by addressing the issue, lives will be saved?

B. R. Martin,

Richmond

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The General Assembly should pass background checks, Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws, Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) and a dangerous weapon/device ban.

A 2018 poll by the Wason Center at Christopher Newport University showed that 84% of Virginians support background checks. CAP laws are among the most effective gun laws, according to the RAND Corporation.

Preventing children and teens from having access to guns saves lives, and some gun owners must be legally incentivized to do so through CAP laws. With an Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO), a judge determines if a person is a risk to themselves or others, so due process is ensured. When a person is a known violent threat or suicidal, an ERPO provides law enforcement the means to remove their weapons and prevent tragedies.

The legislature should prohibit dangerous devices/weapons including high-capacity magazines, assault weapons, silencers and bump stocks. None are used for sport or hunting. They increase the lethality of attacks on humans. We must prevent our children and those who are violent or suicidal from accessing firearms.

Kristen Martin,

Richmond

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I would like to see Virginia legislators ban semi-automatic assault weapons at the July special session. My son was at Virginia Tech during that horrible massacre. Almost every school massacre since Columbine in 1999 was committed with an assault weapon.

Tired of “thoughts and prayers” from Republicans. Time for votes and laws. All 140 legislators are up for election this November. Let’s hold all our legislators responsible if they vote against gun-safety laws.

Stephen A. Marusco,

Midlothian

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Let me first preface this by advising I am a former law enforcement officer.

Gun control has never worked, anywhere, in the history of mankind, for purposes of saving lives. The issue lies in the hearts of mankind.

The criminal element, by definition, is one who does not obey laws. So what makes people so adamant that if governments pass gun control legislation something magically changes the hearts of the criminal? You've got to be living a fairy tale to believe that.

So knowing that criminals don’t follow the law, and will still get guns by whatever means (all underground if outright bans were in place), the question that needs to be asked is “How will law-abiding people be able to defend themselves if they are disarmed?” They can’t, at least not with equal force to stop a deadly threat. A bat versus a gun is no match.

And let’s not forget the ultimate reason for the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as Article 1, Section 13, of the Constitution of Virginia’s Bill of Rights: That is to be a deterrent to a potential tyrannical government and, if needed, to take it out.

Let freedom ring

Mark Matthews,

Chatham

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Last year, 18-year-old Latifah A. Hudnall was shot and killed outside a convenience store in Richmond. She was mere weeks away from graduating from high school and getting a cosmetology certificate. Earlier this summer, 9-year-old Markiya Dickson lost her life to gun violence while she was enjoying a picnic at a Richmond park.

These senseless acts of violence are devastating but they are also an everyday reality for so many of our fellow Virginians. It’s time we put politics aside and ask ourselves what actions we can take to keep our communities safer. During the special session on July 9, we must finally pass meaningful gun safety legislation.

Senate Democrats are proposing universal background checks, which are supported by 91% of Virginians; an extreme risk protective order, which has received bipartisan support in states like Florida and Maryland in the last year; bans on high-capacity magazines and suppressors, both of which were used in the Virginia Beach shooting; and local authority, which would allow localities to regulate firearms on municipal properties. These reforms are practical, not partisan. It’s time we get serious about protecting our communities.

State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond

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The governor's anti-Second Amendment agenda has nothing to do with protecting Virginia's citizens and everything to do with political gain and deflecting public scrutiny from his own failings. Law-abiding citizens should not be persecuted because of the acts of criminals. For example, there were numerous alcohol-related traffic accidents and deaths in Virginia so far this year, so the government should stop the sale of certain kinds of cars and make it much more difficult for law-abiding citizens to buy or own a car because criminals broke the law.

Does that make sense to you? It's no different from what the people who want to penalize law- abiding gun owners are trying to do. He couldn't care less about the people of Virginia who have a Constitutional right to be able to defend themselves from criminals and terrorists.

Michael McMaken,

Frederickburg

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We must expand background checks to all firearms purchases. Licensed dealers are required to conduct background checks, but individual sellers are not. Background checks are a quick, painless way to determine who is a law-abiding individual and who is not.

Second, we should pass a red-flag law or Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO). This allows family members to petition a court to temporarily remove guns from an individual who they fear might either take his or her own life or that of another. Once the crisis has passed, the individual can petition to get back his or her firearms.

Third, we should make sure that those who have a restraining order should not be allowed to possess or purchase a weapon because of elevated risk to the individual requesting a protective order, particularly in domestic violence cases.

For years, many of us directly affected by the Virginia Tech shooting on April 16, 2007, have advocated, only to be spurned by a House Militia, Police and Public Safety subcommittee. We are grateful Virginia intends to address the gun violence that devastated our families and changed our lives forever.

Lu Ann Maciulla McNabb,

Centreville

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The governor is proposing laws that have each been tried in numerous other jurisdictions and at the federal level. None of these proposals has had any effect on violent crime. His proposed "assault weapons" law was in place nationwide between 1994 and 2004. The only effects were inconveniencing legitimate gun owners and increasing sales of firearms that were similar to those affected by the federal law.

States that have adopted universal background checks have seen no significant changes in their violent crime rates. The primary effect of these laws has been to turn well-intentioned people into felons for letting friends or relatives handle or shoot their guns while hunting or shooting.

The governor’s proposals to ban silencers and bump stocks are redundant. There are stringent federal regulations on silencer ownership (a background check, a waiting period, and a $200 tax for each silencer). Bump stocks are banned under federal law.

His proposal to ban certain firearm magazines has been tried before. It was part of the 1994 federal assault weapons ban and was in place nationally until 2004. It also had no effect on crime.

The governor’s proposals have all been tried before and they have all failed before.

Wade M. McNichols,

Christiansburg

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Every year in Virginia, approximately 1,000 individuals die from gun violence. Last year in Richmond, 53 individuals were killed with guns, and in 2017, 24 children from Richmond Public Schools were victims of gun violence. These individuals are more than statistics. They represent beloved members of families across Virginia. Unfortunately, these senseless acts of violence are everyday occurrences for so many communities, and they create pain and lifetime trauma for individuals and communities. Yet, the General Assembly has failed to pass any meaningful gun violence prevention legislation. Gov. Ralph Northam has called legislators into a special session on gun violence on July 9. The time is overdue for lawmakers who are responsible for Virginians’ well-being to do what is right to keep guns out of the hands of those who would harm others.

I call on all lawmakers to enact measures such as universal background checks. Studies indicate that 91% of Virginians support universal background checks. This simple measure would help to prevent those who should not own a weapon from obtaining one. No more excuses - our citizens deserve solutions! It’s time for the General Assembly to act to save lives.

Del. Delores McQuinn, D-Richmond

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As we approach the special session on gun violence prevention, I look forward to a thoughtful discussion about the lifesaving measures Gov. Ralph Northam has proposed. In recent weeks, I co-hosted six roundtables with community leaders and the public from Fairfax to Abingdon to share our efforts and hear directly from Virginians about issues their communities face. Each meeting was invaluable. While perspectives varied greatly about how to address our gun violence emergency, one theme was clear: We must prevent further loss of life.

The bills Northam are proposing will help achieve that goal. In 2017, we lost 1,028 precious lives to gun violence. That number increased in 2018. Two-thirds of these deaths were by suicide. We must prevent individuals who intend to do harm to themselves or others from gaining easy access to firearms. We must curb the pipeline of firearms being diverted into our communities and from ending up in the wrong hands. Finally, we must enable localities to protect their communities by prohibiting these lethal weapons in certain places as they deem appropriate.

It is past time for action. I look forward to working in a bipartisan way to enact these lifesaving measures on July 9.

Brian Moran,

Virginia Secretary of Public Safety

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Virginia is a place that I have proudly called home for the past 22 years. However, our commonwealth requires substantial change in the realm of firearm policy. Virginians are consistently reeling from the effects of gun violence. While the horrific tragedies that occurred at Virginia Tech and, more recently, in Virginia Beach dominate headlines and deserve legislative attention, it is the daily instances of gun violence in communities of color that we need to discuss with urgency. As a resident, I demand that the Virginia General Assembly listen to the concerns of their constituents and pass an extreme risk law, universal background checks, a dangerous weapons ban, and allocate resources to focus on the communities most impacted by gun violence on a daily basis.

Adam Moses,

Great Falls

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It is well known that greater than 90% of gun violence occurs in gun-free zones. Review the gun control in Chicago and Washington, D.C. How have those proposals worked for those areas? Not well at all. Should we not learn from their obvious failures?

I am a 73-year-old woman who lives alone. It is very dark at night. Break-ins and vandalism occur in the dark. How do you propose I defend myself?

I am a gun owner. I obtained it legally after undergoing the best training available, offered by the NRA-a gun safety proponent and current background checks. Police response in my area can take up to 30 minutes. That is reality. I can either scare off an assailant or wait for police and be found dead.

What would you do?

Pat Murphy,

Leesburg

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In the 1960s, I lived in a Brooklyn, N.Y., low-income neighborhood until my teen years. I never feared going out to school, church, the theater or social gatherings as I did living for many years in my middle-income, majority-white neighborhoods in Webster, N.Y., and Albemarle County. I now live in Charlottesville, and what I fear most is a person who's angry, frustrated and unstable with weapons of war. He or she can kill innocent people because he or she has nothing to live for. I beg our leaders in government to realize and act on passing sensible gun legislation now, before I or your loved one is unjustly killed in what I or we thought was a safe environment.

Evelyn Nazario,

Charlottesville

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Actions to take:

• Eliminate gun-free zones for concealed carry weapon permit holders.

• Allow teachers and administrative staff to carry concealed weapons if they obtain their permit and choose to do so.

• Harden school access: controlled entry points, metal detectors, additional resource officers.

• Improve mental health care access

Actions not to take:

• No red flag or ERPO laws.

• No restrictions on magazine capacity, which does not prevent violence or alter the outcome.

• No so-called "assault weapons" ban. Data doesn't support reduction in violence by this ban.

• No ban on suppressors. No data suggests this reduces violence. On the contrary, suppressors aid in hearing preservation of law-abiding shooting sport participants.

• No reinstatement of one-gun-a-month. No data indicates reduction in violence

• No changes to the pre-emption law.

Todd Noebel,

Richmond

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Gov. Ralph Northam is proposing measures on universal background checks and bans on assault weapons, suppressors and bump stocks, as well as high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. He also is seeking to reinstate the one-handgun-a-month law.

As a law abiding firearms owner and a resident of Virginia all of my life, I suggest that Northam's suggestions are merely political posturing. The universal background check has some merit, but no one is addressing the downsides to this. The cost of this program alone is too great to allow for effective monitoring. Without proper funding, it can't work. Limiting the high capacity magazines is a clear and abrupt violation of our Second Amendment rights, removing from the citizenry the tools necessary to defend and support our families and friends from both foreign and domestic assaults. The assault ban, if implemented as previously proposed is a misnomer.

An assault rifle is a fully automatic firing rifles. These already are heavily restricted from civilian ownership. Outlawing suppressors and bump stocks would not have prevented any of the mass shootings. The governor is on a witch hunt. Even if all of these pass, it will accomplish nothing.

Allen Parker,

Chesterfield

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I am a nurse and mother who is concerned about the public health and safety of our communities. We lose more Virginians each year to gun violence than deaths by auto accidents. It is time for our General Assembly to come together in good faith and a spirit of cooperation to pass sensible gun laws. The vast majority of Virginians are in favor of universal background checks. We must focus on keeping guns out of the hands of those who have a proclivity toward violence and protect vulnerable members of the community, namely children and victims of domestic abuse.

This is not a partisan issue. It is an issue of public safety. We expect key members in the Senate Courts of Justice and the House Militia, Police and Public Safety committees, as well as Speaker Kirk Cox and Majority Leader Tommy Norment to support commonsense bills, pass them out of committee and bring them to the floor for a full vote of both chambers.

Christine Payne,

Williamsburg

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During the special session on July 9, the General Assembly needs to pass background checks on all gun sales. This is to ensure that only law-abiding citizens have access to guns. Without this measure, dangerous criminals are able to easily obtain a firearm and cause harm. This is not infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens; it is a measure to keep our communities safer.

And there needs to be child access prevention laws. Children and teens are injured and killed by unintentional firing, and teen suicide is rising at a staggering rate. By nature, teens are impulsive and young children are curious; the onus is on adults to keep them safe.

Kim Perks,

Fairfax

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If I thought any of the governor's proposals would save lives, I'd support them. Virginia Beach, Chicago, London and Venezuela prove otherwise. Killers and tyrants prefer unarmed victims. I support the elimination of gun-free zones and the ability of government workers with concealed carry permits to carry at work.

Dennis Petrocelli,

Richmond

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The constitution is the framework by which "We the people" choose to live our lives in this great nation. The Second Amendment, just like the other amendments, is a fundamental human right that we enjoy in our country. Politicians are not statesmen and they use every problem as a weapon to further their agenda and career. So-called gun control is just another example of this.

James P. Pollard Jr.,

Mechanicsville

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I support a floor vote for gun reform because we need to see our representatives ban assault weapons and hold people accountable for safe gun storage. We need to see who will limit gun magazine sizes, and no representative should be allowed to hide from these votes as November looms.

The Parkland massacre took six minutes. Six minutes with an assault weapon to kill 17 students and staff, as well as injure another 17 people. Instead of arming the public with military-grade arms, we need to ban them entirely.

The necessity for safe storage of guns has become critical. Every single day we read about another 3-year-old shooting himself in the head or an impulsive, despondent teen committing suicide. Responsible gun owners lock up their guns, and those who aren't should be held liable.

The Virginia Beach massacre was committed with a .45-caliber handgun equipped with multiple-extended magazines. By supplying the public with these types of magazines, Virginia is just increasing the body count. We want a floor vote.

Erin Rafferty,

Roanoke

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I live in Virginia Beach, less than 2 miles from the site of the shooting on May 31. Government restrictions on the legal carrying of firearms for self-protection bear some of the responsibility for the tragic losses that day. The General Assembly should recognize that without a police officer on every corner and aisle the only thing to stop a criminal intent on harming others is the citizen willing to step forward and stop the evil. Abolish gun-free zones. Criminals and cops are the only ones who carry them, and the criminals like the odds and seek out these "safe" places to launch their mayhem. It really is that simple.

Bill Rearick,

Virginia Beach

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As a medical professional in Virginia and a military veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom during the surge, I have witnessed the effects of gun violence. I expect House and Senate Republicans to use this special session to pass legislation that will curb violence, a public health crisis that causes the deaths of more than 1,000 Virginians each year. Many of those deaths are preventable. Concurring with the American Medical Association's recommendations, I demand Virginia Republicans protect Virginia's public health and pass universal background checks, curb illegal firearm sales by implementing mandatory reporting of lost and stolen weapons, and ban assault-style weapons, which are not designed for home or hobby use.

As a doctor, I work to save lives. Virginia Republicans, now it's your turn. My vote will reflect your vote.

Christa L. Riley, M.D.,

Midlothian

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This issue is too important to be killed in a subcommittee whose members refuse to meet with gun safety advocates, and which does not include representatives from purple or suburban districts.

I strongly support making Virginia and Virginians safer by passing these commonsense gun laws now.

Monica Russ,

Reston

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My suggestion for legislators in the upcoming special session, shaped by 26 years as a public school teacher, is this: Ignore any proposals to arm teachers. This idea is fraught with peril from beginning to end. It’s likely that an armed gunman will never enter my school, but the additional guns that could be kept in classrooms or holstered on teachers pose an unacceptable risk to my colleagues and our students. Statistics show that guns in the home are much more likely to be used on residents than intruders, and the possibility that an unruly or careless student could end up with a gun in the classroom is terrifying.

In the unlikely event that there is an armed threat, the person most well equipped to respond is our school’s resource officer, who receives thorough, continued weapons training and is more likely to be able to resolve a crisis without injuring bystanders in the crossfire.

And, as our resource officer tells my students every year when she visits my classroom, police responding to a school shooting need to know that the only person waving a gun when they enter is a shooter, not an unidentified civilian trying to help out.

Renee Serrao,

Midlothian

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Having lost a family member to gun violence, I believe that each person should embrace his moral responsibility in reducing death and injury from gunfire. Collectively we must advocate for wide-ranging and effective policy measures to prevent future gun violence. It is imperative that we do what is right. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The time is always right to do what is right .”

What is right is keeping handguns out of the hands of those who are behaving dangerously. A strategic move toward this reality can be accomplished by closing gaps in the background check system, including requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales. I also believe assault weapon should be banned from public sales. Furthermore, we also must establish policies that enhance law enforcement’s ability to enforce existing gun laws and combat the flow of illegal guns into our communities. It is time for our leaders to act to end gun violence in Virginia.

Charles L. Shannon III,

Richmond

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In regard to the July 9 special session, we favor bans on assault weapons, suppressors and bump stocks. Those guns are not used for hunting. They are designed to kill and do so rapidly. This action does not violate the freedom to have guns for hunting, defense or for target shooting. In regard to handguns, we support the measure to reinstate the one-handgun-a-month law. More people die by handguns than assault weapons. We believe the NRA is more interested in profits than the safety of people.

Clyde and Valerie Shelton,

Burkeville

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Our second most important constitutional right, only second to freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition our government means we should be teaching our children and citizens this law. I was taught firearm safety and their use in elementary school and furthered my training in the Marine Corps, very proudly I might add.

It’s clear that as a nation we do not have enough resources for our public safety agencies and political “chest thumping” to stop one of our nation’s most hideous ongoing blight, “mass shootings.” It’s as if the framers of the constitution deliberately made this one of our top two priorities moving forward as a young nation.

Plainly, it’s the responsibility of the people to step up efforts of a more trained and armed citizenry (volunteer, of course), so the next time a shooter wants to shoot up a place they will have many more dutiful armed and trained “citizen militia public safety protectors” shooting back.

I am well aware this will create a new set of challenges that we can sort out on an ongoing basis, but the people should no longer wait for a broken political solution. Time to step up and get smart.

John Shinholser,

Mechanicsville

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When the Second Amendment was formulated, bump stocks, assault rifles and such were not available. As our forefathers responded to a need in their time, we must respond to the critical need to save human lives, which we face today.

Therefore, we should: mandate mental health screenings for gun purchases; require universal background checks; prohibit private use of assault rifles and bump stocks; and limit the number of guns a person can purchase in a specific period.

Richard and Sandra Shirey,

Ashland

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There is no law, including total confiscation, which will keep a criminal from obtaining a firearm. If our governor was as confused about medicine as he is about firearms, 95% of his patients would expire. What part of "shall not be infringed" doesn't he understand?

Marvin Shoaf,

Sterling

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Richmond lawmakers face a critical moment on July 9. The Virginia Beach shooting impelled the elected officials to move into special session. As with the shooting at Virginia Tech, the incident at Virginia Beach has forever changed the community. Lawmakers must conjure the memories of the recent victims and the hundreds of Virginians who die each year from gun violence as the motivation to craft sound legislation.

As a U.S. Army veteran and a Virginian, I proudly took an oath to defend our country. Today, I uphold that oath by proclaiming that gun violence is truly a national crisis that hurts our commonwealth. House Speaker Kirk Cox and the Republican Party can join us in advocating for laws that will save lives, laws that the majority of Americans support. Historically, they have chosen the path of obstruction, by blocking more than 50 gun safety bills from getting a full, fair hearing before the entire House of Delegates. There have been no debates, no votes, or no real action from our elected officials to make Virginia safer.

July 9 presents a second chance for state lawmakers to do the right thing. To each member, I challenge you to pass legislation that protects Virginians from gun violence.

I am watching, and I am not alone. Virginia voters care about gun safety, and come November, they will remember those who stood up for our safety and those who chose to remain silent.

Terron Sims, II, former captain, U.S. Army

Member, Giffords Veterans Coalition

Arlington

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On July 9, the special session should not consider any new gun control measures. There are already way too many restrictions on our right to bear arms. No past restrictions or future ones the governor is proposing will do anything to prevent people from murdering one other.

Roger Somero,

Virginia Beach

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I’m encouraged by the special session on July 9 but disheartened by the GOP’s response. As a rural gun owner who advocates for commonsense gun legislation, I don’t believe there is anything partisan about keeping Virginians safe.

Our legislature must vote on measures that protect us: universal background checks, higher standards for safe storage and concealed carry, and Extreme Risk Protection Orders.

There’s little empirical evidence to support the effectiveness of the laws that House Speaker Kirk Cox recommended in his response to the governor. I would remind the GOP that not every act of gun violence is a criminal one. Mandatory minimums will not reduce suicides or deaths due to unsecured firearms. Gun violence in Virginia is multifaceted, not just Virginia Tech or Virginia Beach, and it’s rooted in the alarmingly easy access to guns here. Criminal justice and mental health is complex; easy access to firearms in Virginia is not. Let’s start there.

Cox dismissed the July 9 session as “hasty” but the reality of access to firearms in Virginia means that it is often too little, too late. The time to act is now, and the majority of Virginians — including many gun owners — agree.

Robyn Sordelett,

Prince George

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I support Gov. Ralph Northam's efforts to make Virginia a safer state. A special session to focus on "commonsense" public safety laws is long overdue. Many Americans no longer feel safe in public spaces — not in schools, churches or even places of work. To think that a little girl can't go to a cookout in a public park in Richmond without being fatally shot, or that 12 employees in Virginia Beach recently died at the hands of a gunman while trying to earn a living paints a disturbing picture of a democracy in dire need of better checks and balances when it comes to guns.

How many times do innocent people and children have to die before elected leaders find the political will to take action? The proposed measures, including universal background checks and bans on assault weapons, suppressors and bump stocks, should be discussed and considered. Reinstating a one-handgun-a-month law also seems reasonable.

According to news sources, 1,600 mass shootings have occurred in America since the 2012 massacre of 20 children and six adults by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. My hope is that the legislature will take action to curb easy access to guns and that they will continue to shore up the state’s mental health system.

Paula C. Squires,

Midlothian

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Members of the Virginia General Assembly should take specific actions to address gun violence. More than thoughts and prayers are needed. They could start with requiring universal background checks on all purchasing guns. This is a measure that more than 90% of Americans support, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll in 2017, as do 83% of gun owners. A background check is a commonsense measure, but common sense has, unfortunately, been missing in many discussions of the issue. The mentally ill, those with violent criminal records, and any homegrown or foreign terrorists should not have access to lethal weapons.

Another commonsense measure would be the banning of assault weapons for purchase from gun vendors. Our well-trained men and women serving in the military and law enforcement need to have these weapons available to them; they are the “good guys” with guns. However, those not in military service or not serving as law enforcement officials are not needed for the defense of our country or enforcing our laws. There are no reasons why they should be in possession of such weapons.

Robert Stewart,

Chantilly

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I have complete faith that the gun violence prevention legislation will make our communities safer. How do I come to this conclusion? Specifically, by referencing other countries’ success in the reduction of gun violence through legislation. Also, in general, by witnessing our own attempts at safer communities through law and education with issues such as drunken driving, seat belts and speed limits. Am I under any illusion that gun violence measures would eliminate our gun violence? Absolutely not. But I am equally confident this is a step in the right direction.

In the wake of our latest tragedy in Virginia Beach and the daily reminders of our gun violence crisis, the governor declared a special session to address these concerns on July 9. The following policy changes are needed: universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons, suppressors, bump stocks and high-capacity magazines. Additionally, a red flag policy where a family member or police officer can request firearm restriction if there is a concern of harm to self or others, and finally, the reinstatement of the one-handgun-a-month policy.

We have arrived at the point of a gun violence epidemic. Let’s make our communities safer and encourage our legislators at all levels to support these measures and avert yet another tragedy.

Gail Stuhlmiller,

Midlothian

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I'm writing as a Richmonder and mother of a toddler.

Universal background checks would keep Virginians safe. It's scary to know that mentally ill people, domestic abusers and people with violent criminal records are able to easily purchase guns in Virginia. Responsible gun owners would still be able to own guns, but we would all be safer.

I hope the state legislators reconsider the red flag law as well. The law would permit police or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who might present a danger to others or himself. This law would protect Virginians from gun massacres and prevent thousands of suicides.

More than 1,000 Virginians were killed by guns in 2017. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can have responsible gun ownership and keep our families safe.

Laura Swanson,

Richmond

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I am against all aspects of Gov. Ralph Northam's gun control proposals. They are violations of the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions. The legislature should change the current gun control preemption law to impose penalties (jail, fines or both) on any localities' elected officials or local government employees that restrict legal carry anywhere.

Richard M. Swink Sr.,

Blacksburg

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I own a .30-30 long-barreled Winchester rifle that belonged to my father. I used to go deer hunting with it in the 1940s when I was a girl. It doesn’t have a bump stock, or silencer, or hold more than six bullets. But it’s a beauty, and you don’t need more than that to hunt game.

The following subject is different, but related. It’s part family fable, but mostly fact.

For years my family belonged to the same political party and voted the straight party line. Another branch of the family voted the same way — for the other party.

There are two cemeteries in the Jackson River valley about 4 miles apart that bear the same family name. I always heard that the Republicans were buried in one, and the Democrats in the other. But one day, a relative broke rank and voted for a candidate in the other party. She said she thought he showed commonsense that would be good for our country and the folks who lived in it. Nowadays, Democrats, Republicans and independents are buried in both cemeteries. They seem friendly.

The moral might be: Sometimes common sense shoots straighter than party lines.

Johnnie Lou Terry,

Richmond

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I am opposed to Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposals to impose further gun restrictions on the commonwealth’s law-abiding citizenry. None of the proposals, as I’ve read them, would have prevented the horrific slayings in Virginia Beach, or the earlier massacre some years ago at Virginia Tech. New laws would only infringe on the rights of our citizens, who obey the law.

I believe this is a two-fold attempt: first, to take the spotlight off the governor's “Blackface” incident; and second, to further the liberal gun control agenda of the Democratic Party. As Rahm Emanuel, then President Obama’s chief of staff, was quoted as saying after the financial crisis of 2008, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that [is] it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not before.”

William R. Thibeault,

Williamsburg

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No actions should be taken until the investigation into the shootings has been completed. The whole idea is to prevent (if possible) such a tragedy from ever occurring. Until all the facts are known, how can legislation be proposed to prevent it? If any action is taken, reinstate minimum sentencing for any crime committed with a gun. Allow workers with firearm training to carry firearms at work. Give workers training in spotting potential threats (erratic behavior, where firearms are hidden on a person, informing staff when a disgruntled person has been terminated or suspended, etc.).

Don't vilify law-abiding gun owners for criminal activities committed by criminals.

Ray Thomas,

Lawrenceville

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In the wake of the Parkland shooting, House Speaker Kirk Cox created a Select Committee on School Safety. We succeeded in getting the committee to add more counselors to schools, among other reforms.

However, our proposals to the committee about gun violence did not even receive a hearing.

You cannot address student safety fully without addressing gun violence. In the United States in 2018, there were 35 deaths and 79 injuries in school shootings. Last year, city of Richmond buses were struck by gunfire three times, and in Chesterfield County two people were shot 100 yards from students boarding a bus.

Eighty percent of school shootings since 1999 involved weapons taken from the shooter’s or a friend’s home. Three proposals we put forward begin to address this. First, requiring reporting of lost or stolen weapons; second, tightening improper storage laws; and third, creating red flag laws to track dangerous situations. Simple policies like these don’t infringe on Constitutional rights and are supported by bipartisan majorities of Americans. We can uphold Second Amendment rights while putting into place safeguards that save children’s lives.

These ideas deserve honest debate and an up-or-down vote on the floor, which the Republican majority has so far refused to allow.

Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg, D-Henrico

Del. Jeff Bourne, D-Richmond

Del. Mike Mullin, D-Newport News

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Our General Assembly has ignored the will of Virginians in favor of the gun lobby for far too long.

We don’t need to ask if the reforms being considered at the upcoming special session will work — they are proved to save lives in states that have passed them. Maryland’s new red flag law already has stopped four potential school shooters, and untold numbers of suicides. Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month law led to reduced gun crime up and down Interstate 95’s “iron pipeline.”

I sat through a committee meeting in January 2018 and watched as all logical gun reform bills fell at the hands of just a few Republicans. When the bump stock ban came up for discussion, a Las Vegas massacre survivor tearfully recounted her horror at running for her life from an effectively automatic rifle. The Virginia Citizens’ Defense League’s answer — I am not kidding — “But they (bump stocks) are fun.”

Virginians spoke loud and clear at the polls, electing gun-sensible candidates statewide. NRA-backed candidates were swept out of office. Time for NRA-written gun laws to be swept away too.

Karen Vaught

Alexandria

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The General Assembly should not respond to this slaughter by banning any particular kinds of firearms now in existence.

"Gun-free" zones are merely invitations to thugs to come in and perform their slaughter unmolested. People should be encouraged to arm themselves. They should make the thugs wonder if everybody in the place is armed, and make them fear the law-abiding citizen, rather than the other way around.

Those who call for taking away the citizen's means of defending himself, shamelessly flatter themselves when they call this "common sense"; not only choosing to live in a lying fantasy world where nobody ever needs to defend himself, but choosing to put others in danger in order to force them to prop up their fantasy. That is what is truly dangerous.

Jill Joybelle VanSise,

Richmond

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To every member of the General Assembly and to our governor, you all swore an oath when you took office. That oath bound you to uphold both the United States and Virginia Constitutions.

This is not a matter of public opinion. It is not a matter of public safety. In fact, the courts have consistently upheld that the government is not responsible for the safety of any individual. And in fact, when the government employees (with guns) show up, it is almost always too late to stop the crime or save the victim.

The right to keep and bear arms is a natural right. The Founding Fathers considered it so important that they enshrined it in the Bill of Rights, second only to the right to worship, think, speak our minds, and be a part of our system of governance. The entire point of the Second Amendment is the protection of all our natural rights. Therefore, it shall not be infringed. There is no provision for "commonsense restrictions" or "public safety" anywhere in that document.

If you cannot live up to your oath, then you should resign.

Pat Webb,

Beaverdam

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I believe anything Gov. Ralph Northam wants for gun control should not see the light of day. While shootings of any size are sad, those lives lost are not more important than keeping the Second Amendment as it is written. For if you give a politician a slice of pie, they will not be happy until they take the entire pie.

Charles Wilhoite,

Mechanicsville

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No matter where I buy a motor vehicle, to drive it, I must first have training to get an ID, license, and have both insurance and registration paperwork always available. Annual inspections are required. That is based on public safety and accepting that my choice to have a vehicle also means I accept responsibility to be insured. Such is well-accepted by all states. I do not leave my vehicles unlocked, because I do not want them stolen, nor be liable for misuse. Vehicles have long been recognized as inherently dangerous instruments without such measures.

Contrast that to weapons ownership in our state. No training is ever required. No insurance for ownership is required. No trigger locks. No registration numbers to owners. Why is that?

Jean M. Wight,

Richmond

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The governor’s gun control measures failed in regular sessions because a real need for them has never been articulated.

In special session, the General Assembly must again reject the governor’s gun control measures because they will not prevent the violent crimes that plague our neighborhoods such as young males shooting one another and murdering innocent bystanders like 9-year old Markiya Dickson. Thugs do not care about or obey the law.

Universal background checks, unconstitutional red flag laws, limiting magazine capacity, banning modern sporting rifles and sound suppressors will not deter criminals.

Also, the governor wants someone to have a criminal record for not reporting that his gun has been lost or stolen. That doesn’t seem like a good way to encourage the community to cooperate with the police.

Instead of crime prevention and punishing offenders, the governor is taking the first steps to disarm law-abiding citizens. When that happens, only the government, thugs and criminals will have guns.

Come November, people must not vote for anyone who supports the governor’s gun control measures.

I challenge any member of the General Assembly to describe how any of the proposed gun control measures would have prevented the Virginia Beach murders.

Mike Wilson,

Richmond

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The governor should immediately support legislation to end supposed gun-free zones (where more than 98% of mass shootings have occurred since the 1960s) in the commonwealth and to hold liable, civilly and criminally, any entity who would bar people from lawfully carrying firearms for their personal protection.

Jason Wise,

Montpelier

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I agree with Gov. Ralph Northam on all the proposals he is suggesting for Virginia. Why are we the only developed country that has such a high gun violence rate? Because in other countries the common good is put ahead of gun ownership. Why are we tolerating mass shootings over and over again, accidental deaths when children find guns in their homes, increased suicide rates and guns used in confrontations all over the country? We can all see the statistics in other countries and ours. How can we explain it except for the number of guns available in the U.S. Please help stop the gun violence!

Kathy Wittig,

Midlothian

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On May 31, I watched the horror unfold during the Virginia Beach shooting. A man in a bloody shirt with a police officer touching his shoulder caught my eye and I had a flashback to a time on the South Side of Richmond many years ago. I applied pressure to the blood-soaked shirt of my neighbor as she lay bleeding on my kitchen floor after being shot multiple times in the back I prayed, "Please don't let her die." Her cries of, "Please hurry" after we called 911 still haunt me.

There are many triggers since this incident. It can be a smell, or when someone says, "I've been shot," as my neighbor did that night and I relive the incident and it never goes away. It never goes away. Gun violence is rampant in our country. It must stop. We do not need more guns. That is not the answer. What we must have are commonsense public safety laws such as universal background checks; a ban on assault weapons, suppressors and bump stocks; a ban on high-capacity magazines; and one-handgun-a-month regulations. I support legislation on this issue immediately. Another life cannot be lost.

Carol Wray,

Midlothian

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I am strongly in favor of legislation that will tighten restrictions on firearms. I believe that assault weapons should be banned except for use by the military and perhaps some law enforcement officers. They are not weapons used for sport unless one considers mass shootings of humans a sport. Tighter control of licensing regulations and keeping an accurate database of those not eligible to buy/carry weapons also would decrease the number of weapons on our streets and in our public spaces. I hope our legislators vote to reduce, if not end, gun violence.

Dona M. Wylie,

Charlottesville

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I am Chilean-Spanish and recently, an American citizen. I have lived in the U.S. for 10 years0 and I want to emphasize that in most other countries, there are regulations for the purchase and use of weapons. Only in this country have I heard people say that they lose their freedom if they do not have a gun. The Second Amendment corresponds to its time and not to the present, where commercial interests prevail.

Although I have never owned guns or been curious about them, I agree people can buy some collectibles, simple guns and hunting rifles. The other types, such as M16 rifles, are typical of war and do not help civic life at all. What are they for? To fill with holes a thief? To hunt animals cruelly? Home decoration? I agree with the maximum control or elimination of the market. I do not feel I will lose any freedom; on the contrary, I will grow as a human being.

Maria Pilar York,

Chesterfield

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