by Kierra Johnson
It’s hard to watch California raise taxes on guns to pay for school safety in the midst of a gun violence epidemic for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the measure is nowhere near the effort that needs to be put into gun violence prevention, which can be very frustrating for those who are most vulnerable. Secondly, the new law is light years ahead of efforts that are being made by lawmakers in other states such as Virginia, so as frustrating as the law is, it is still a step in the right direction. Instead of following that direction to offer more security to the Commonwealth, lawmakers are only offering thoughts and prayers, which have done nothing to reduce the amount of lives being lost to gun violence.
On September 24, 2023, a 14-year-old was killed and four others were injured in a shooting, but the news did not have the major response on social media that a lot of shootings tend to have. Most responders to the news apathetically quoted the often used “thoughts and prayers” phrase that an overwhelming number of politicians use to offer their condolences in the aftermath of mass shootings. This response is not the result of a demographic who no longer cares. Reactions such as these happen when people no longer believe that their government will take action to protect those who have the least power.
Regardless of the shooter’s motive, incidents like this shooting are a reflection of much bigger problems that are not being addressed in order to protect the interests of those who equate gun sense legislation with a loss of power. Most shooters are young men who either have access to an unsafely stored weapon or an easily obtained weapon with little to no restrictive processes. The weapons are so easy to obtain, that many shooters acquire their weapon of choice within a few days of carrying out their plans, with 77% of mass shooters obtaining their guns legally.
Despite this statistic, as well as the general sentiment that is held amongst those concerned with gun violence, there still isn’t a bipartisan push to pass gun-sense legislation in Virginia. With the current number of seats being held by lawmakers who refuse to support gun violence protection laws, it is impossible for any gun-sense legislation to pass solely on the efforts of some lawmakers .
Early voting has begun in Virginia, so if you want to see more action being taken against gun violence, the people who intend to protect their communities need your vote. If you are unsure who supports gun sense legislation, check out Progress Virginia’s Voter Guide for 2023, It’s time to make sure that we get the legislation we need to finally put an end to gun violence.