by Kimberly Nario
It was sunny until it wasn’t.
A group of us walked out of the theater building, laughing at something I can’t remember, when someone approached us and asked if we heard. Confusion set in. Then immediately we all started texting and making phone calls, checking on our people, trying to remember who had friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, or family in Blacksburg. It was panic, chaos, agony. My phone rang. It was my oldest brother calling. Our other brother was a student at Virginia Tech.
When I was in high school that same brother became a Marine. Then he went to war. And every single day he was gone, I dreaded hearing the phone ring. I was terrified of hearing bad news come through the receiver. Would he make it out of there only to come home to this? I tried to listen to my oldest brother and ignore the what-ifs in my head.
He wasn’t on campus when it happened. I felt horrible to feel so incredibly relieved while people around me were drowning in tears, unable to reach their loved ones. Somehow this has become our reality, hoping we don’t get the phone call while we know others will.
It’s difficult not to feel frustrated about how these mass shootings are seemingly inevitable. Want to take a guess what’s the leading cause of death among children and teens in Virginia? It’s gun violence. Guns are literally killing the future of the Commonwealth. Yet, just this past session, Delegate Wendell Walker wanted guns to be allowed in places of worship, and Delegate Mike Cherry aimed to allow guns in preschools and daycare centers. Delegate Marie March proposed repealing “red flag laws.” Delegate Timothy Anderson tried to remove the limit of handgun purchases per month. And we cannot forget this gem from Delegate Nick Freitas.
Where is the disconnect? Why do some elected officials appear to care more about their access to guns than the violence that comes from them? And what can be done to prevent the next seemingly inevitable mass shooting? Right now Virginia’s gun laws include age restrictions, purchase limits, and background checks. Is there anything else we can do?
YES. There’s so much we can still do!
- We can push to prohibit the sale and transfer of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
- We can urge our U.S. Senators to vote YES on the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
- We can elect legislators who believe in common sense measures. (Hope y’all voted in the primaries!)
- When you hear Republicans say guns aren’t a political issue, remind them that even the NRA supported gun control at one point. And when those same Republicans are quick to say it’s only a mental health issue, ask them where they stand on universal healthcare.
- Learn more about Virginia’s “red flag laws” here. See how–or if–your city uses them.
- Remember how much progress we’ve made since the Virginia Tech massacre, and hold elected officials accountable to do more before another one happens.
A series of questions finds its way into my thoughts routinely, when will it happen again? Will it be my friends? Will it be my family? Will it be me?
I pray that Republicans and corporate greed (looking at you NRA) stop standing in the way of meaningful legislation.