Gun control has been a highly debated and partisan issue across the United States since the Columbine High School massacre of 1999. In 2007, Virginia experienced its own mass shooting, one of the deadliest in American history, when 33 were shot and killed on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg on April 16, 2007. The debate on gun control continued to grow in Virginia this year following the mass shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal building on May 31st, 2019, which killed thirteen. Candidates for the 2019 general assembly were quick to make their positions clear on gun control following the shooting, with many democratic candidates promising to enact gun control legislation should they be elected, while republican candidates vowed to protect the second amendment rights of Virginians. Since the democratic take over following the elections on November 5th, majority conservative counties have begun to declare themselves as gun sanctuaries in defiance of the gun control promises of the newly elected democratic general assembly. As the new year and the beginning of a new general assembly session grows closer, gun control will surely continue to be a strongly contested matter between the will of the people and their newly elected representatives.
History and Background Information
20 years after Columbine, what’s changed — and what hasn’t — for school shootings in America
Source: ABC News
On April 20, 1999, two students opened fire at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, gunning down 12 of their fellow students and a teacher before killing themselves.
America endured school shootings before Columbine, but never “one quite like that one,” said ABC News contributor and former FBI agent Brad Garrett.
The sheer shock of 13 people losing their lives in chaos that unfolded on live TV launched the country into a new era — and new century — of school shooting coverage, ahead of Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Parkland and countless others.
Virginia Tech Shooting Leaves 33 Dead
Source: The New York Times
Thirty-three people were killed Monday on the campus of Virginia Tech in what appears to be the deadliest shooting rampage in American history, according to federal law enforcement officials. Many of the victims were students shot in a dorm and a classroom building.
“Today, the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions,” said the university’s president, Charles Steger. The campus police chief said this evening that 15 people were wounded by the gunman, although there were other reports of higher numbers of injuries.
13 dead, including gunman, in shooting at Virginia Beach Municipal Center
Source: The Virginian-Pilot
A longtime city employee shot and killed 12 people and injured at least four others after opening fire Friday afternoon in the public works building, making it the country’s deadliest mass shooting this year.
Police said officers killed the man, identified Saturday morning as DeWayne Craddock, a long-time engineer with the city, after he fired at them in the city’s scenic Municipal Center in Princess Anne, a campus of about 30 brick Colonial-style buildings.
The four injured were all in surgery Friday, Police Chief James Cervera said during a news conference a couple of hours after the massacre.
Gun Rights Movement
The Secret History of Guns
Source: The Atlantic
Gun-rights supporters believe the amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms and outlaws most gun control. Hard-line gun-rights advocates portray even modest gun laws as infringements on that right and oppose widely popular proposals—such as background checks for all gun purchasers—on the ground that any gun-control measure, no matter how seemingly reasonable, puts us on the slippery slope toward total civilian disarmament.
This attitude was displayed on the side of the National Rifle Association’s former headquarters: the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
The National Rifle Association
While widely recognized today as a major political force and as America’s foremost defender of Second Amendment rights, the NRA has, since its inception, been the premier firearms education organization in the world. But our successes would not be possible without the tireless efforts and countless hours of service our nearly five million members have given to champion Second Amendment rights and support NRA programs. As former Clinton spokesman George Stephanopoulos said, “Let me make one small vote for the NRA. They’re good citizens. They call their congressmen. They write. They vote. They contribute. And they get what they want over time.”
*Also of note, the NRA is currently headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia.*
Gun Owners of America
Over the last 30 years, GOA has built a nationwide network of attorneys to help fight court battles in almost every state in the nation to protect gun owner rights. GOA staff and attorneys have also worked with members of Congress, state legislators and local citizens to protect gun ranges and local gun clubs from closure by overzealous government anti-gun bureaucrats.
As an example, GOA fought for and won, the right of gun owners to sue and recover damages from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) for harassment and unlawful seizure of firearms.
*Also of note, GOA is currently headquartered in Springfield, Virginia.*
Gun Control Movement
Here’s a Timeline of the Major Gun Control Laws in America
Through their grief, the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have become a political force. One week after 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz allegedly used an AR-15 to shoot and kill 17 people at the school, around 100 students met with lawmakers in the Florida state capital to advocate for gun control.
But with the right of gun ownership enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, gun regulations remain a thorny issue in the U.S. Throughout history, there have been several laws and Supreme Court cases that have shaped the Second Amendment
Everytown for Gun Safety
Everytown is a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. Gun violence touches every town in America. For too long, change has been thwarted by the Washington gun lobby and by leaders who refuse to take common-sense steps that will save lives.
But something is changing. Nearly 6 million mayors, moms, cops, teachers, survivors, gun owners, students and everyday Americans have come together to make their own communities safer. Together, we are fighting for the changes that we know will save lives.
March For Our Lives
Source: March For Our Lives
Every day in America, more than 100 lives are taken by the deadly epidemic of gun violence. Among young people, gun violence has become a top cause of death, second only to drug overdoses. It has many root causes, including hate, poverty, and despair. It’s a deeply intersectional issue, inextricably bound with our long journey for racial justice, economic justice, immigrant rights, and the rights of our LGBTQ allies. And it’s amplified by the societal belief that a gun can solve our problems.
Notable Supreme Court Cases and US Legislation
United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 (1875).
In the first case to deal with the Second Amendment, the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment does not bar stateregulation of firearms. The Court stated that the Second Amendment “has no other effect thanto restrict the powers of the national government.” While the Cruikshank ruling primarily functioned as a way to disarm African American residents while protecting white Southern
paramilitary groups and only addresses the Second Amendment in passing, it remains
frequently cited when answering questions on the function and scope of the Second Amendment.
United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939)
In perhaps the most cited Supreme Court case on the Second Amendment, the Court held that the “obvious purpose” of the Second Amendment was to “assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of” the state militia, and the Amendment “must be interpreted and applied with the end in view.” Essentially, the focus of the Second Amendment was to protect the rights of states to form militias, not the rights of individuals to own guns, and that the protections of the Second Amendment must be understood within the context of militia service.
Status: Passed House and Senate, awaits signature by Northam
Sponsors: Representatives Rip Sullivan, Betsy Carr, Eileen Filler-Corn, Dan Helmer, Chris Hurst, Mark Levine, Alfonso Lopez, and Kathleen Murphy
Status: Passed Senate
Sponsors: Representatives Scott Surovell, Jennifer Boysko, Creigh Deeds, Adam Ebbin, John Edwards, Barbara Favola, Jenn McClellan, Joe Morrissey
Status: Passed Senate
Sponsors: Representatives Mamie Locke, Jennifer Boysko, Adam Ebbin, Kaye Kory, Jenn McClellan, Joe Morrissey, Dick Saslaw
Status: Passed Senate
Sponsors: Representatives Louise Lucas, Jennifer Boysko, Lynwood Lewis, Jenn McClellan, Dick Saslaw, Joe Morrissey
Past Notable Legislation
Status: Passed April 20th, 2016
Sponsors: Representatives Steven Landes, Mark Cole, and Scott Lingamfelter
Status: Passed March 2nd, 2016
Sponsors: Representatives Michael J. ‘Mike’ Webert, Mark L. Cole, Christopher E. ‘Chris’ Collins,
James E. Edmunds II, Hyland F. ‘Buddy’ Fowler Jr., Charles D. ‘Charlie’ Poindexter
Status: Passed February 22nd, 2012
Sponsors: Representatives Charles W. ‘Bill’ Carrico Sr., Richard Hayden ‘Dick’ Black, Thomas A. ‘Tom’ Garrett Jr., Bryce E. Reeves
Sanctuary counties: Inside Virginia’s gun rights resistance
Source: BBC World News
By Joel Gunter
February 13, 2020
Democrats won control of the Virginia House and Senate in November for the first time in 24 years, and they immediately proposed a raft of gun control measures from universal background checks to restrictions on high capacity magazines. The bills came as no surprise – the Democrats had campaigned heavily on gun control, backed by funding from activist groups which comprehensively outspent the National Rifle Association in its home state. Democratic candidates were responding to a growing clamour for gun control that began with the mass shooting of 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007 and was amplified last year when a municipal worker slaughtered 12 people in Virginia Beach.
Gov. Northam-backed gun control bills pass in Virginia
Source: ABC News
February 28, 2020
Parts of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s sweeping gun control legislation have won final passage in the General Assembly.
Lawmakers in the House and Senate gave final passage to several pieces of gun control legislation Friday.
That includes a red flag bill to allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from people deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others, and legislation giving local governments more authority to ban guns in public places.