Richmond, VA—Speaker Kirk Cox will do anything to avoid taking on the NRA’s lobbyists and tackling the crisis of gun violence in our communities. He will bottle up background check proposals in subcommittee. He’ll appoint a commission to examine school shootings but prohibit them from talking about gun violence. And now he’s proposing to again stonewall commonsense gun violence prevention measures to instead double down on mass incarceration.
In response to today’s announcement of a special session of the General Assembly, Cox pushed back, declaring the House GOP would focus on increasing mandatory minimums. Incredibly, Cox’s “answer” to Friday’s tragic shooting in Virginia Beach is to double down on ineffective criminal justice policies that disproportionately imprison people of color.
“We have seen time and again that Virginia’s laws are insufficient to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals and prevent the kinds of tragedies we saw in Virginia Beach,” said Progress Virginia executive director Anna Scholl. “But instead of coming together around commonsense gun violence prevention measures that would keep our families safe, Speaker Kirk Cox wants to distract us by doubling down on a criminal justice failures that imprison African Americans and Latinos at alarming rates. We won’t stand for dangerous proposals that hurt communities of color and we won’t be distracted from real solutions to ensure all of us can live in safe and healthy communities. No exceptions.”
Black people are disproportionately affected by gun violence in the United States. Black men are 13 times more likely than non-Hispanic white men to be shot and killed with guns, and the gun death rate for Black children and teens was nearly four times that for White children and teens. [Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism ]
In 2016, 43 percent of gun deaths were among Black children and teens, although they made up only 14 percent of all children and teens. 1,335 Black children and teens were killed by guns in 2016, one every 6 hours and 34 minutes. [Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism ]
Virginia’s incarceration rate outpaces that of the United States as a whole and disproportionately includes African-Americans, far beyond their percentage of the overall population. [Prison Policy Initiative]
Individuals convicted of a felony in Virginia permanently lose the right to vote unless restored by the Governor.
- As of 2016, Virginia disenfranchised almost 8% of the total population, but approximately 22% of African Americans in the state. [The Sentencing Project]