Friday, September 4, 2015

[COMMENTARY] Do what it takes to stop gun violence

On Air Shooting
Last Wednesday, my daughter Alison was brutally struck down in the prime of her life by a deranged gunman. Since that time I have stated in numerous interviews I have done with local, national and international media that I plan to make my life’s work trying to implement effective and reasonable safeguards against this happening again.
In recent years we have all witnessed similar tragedies unfold on TV — the shooting of a congresswoman in Arizona, the massacre of schoolchildren in Connecticut and churchgoers in South Carolina. We have to ask ourselves: “What do we need to do to stop this insanity?”
In my case, the answer is, “Whatever it takes.”
I plan to devote all of my strength and resources to seeing that some good comes from this evil. I am entering this arena with open eyes. I realize the magnitude of the force that opposes any sensible and reasonable safeguards on the purchase of devices that have a single purpose: to kill.
That means we must focus our attention on the legislators who are responsible for America’s criminally weak gun laws — laws that facilitate the access dangerous individuals have to firearms on a daily basis.
Legislators like Congressman Bob Goodlatte, who represents Roanoke, Virginia, where this atrocity took place on live television. As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Goodlatte has had more than two years to bring up universal background check legislation and other gun violence prevention bills in his committee. He has refused to lead on this issue and has done absolutely nothing to help contain the carnage we are seeing.
On the other hand, Goodlatte had no problem cashing his check from the National Rifle Association during the 2014 election cycle. Shame on him.
But the issue of controlling gun violence is also being hampered by our elected officials on the state level. For example, Virginia state Sens. John Edwards, who represents Roanoke, where Alison and Adam Ward lived, and Bill Stanley, who represents the district where the shooting took place. Edwards’ district also contains the Virginia Tech campus, so he is fully aware of how easy it is for dangerously mentally ill individuals to acquire guns in Virginia. Yet he has been a constant opponent of sensible gun reforms like expanded background checks during his 15-plus years in the Virginia Senate, breaking ranks constantly with his colleagues in Virginia’s Democratic Party.

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