This morning, I received a frantic phone call from a dear friend that I have worked with for years advocating for reform to Virginia's lax gun laws. “Have you heard the horrible news?” I had not, but quickly learned a shooter just outside of Roanoke, Va. had murdered a young, female journalist and a cameraman on live TV. I ran to my computer, Googled “Shooting Roanoke” and clicked on the video link that appeared. The panic in my friend’s voice was understandable. The horrific images and sounds of the murderous gunshots were devastating. I can only imagine how watching the clip must have felt for my friend who, in that moment, was forced to relive the dreadful day she learned her own daughter had been shot and injured at Virginia Tech.
For the tens of thousands of Americans who are victims of gun violence each year, when incidents like this occur their own trauma comes rushing back. First the panic, then the heartache, and finally the anger. Yes, the anger. Anger that another family has been forced to confront this evil. Anger that there is so much that Congress and state legislatures can do to curb gun violence but so little political will. Anger that once again, we are confronted with the question, “What will it take?”
What will it take for Virginia legislators, who consistently vote against common-sense gun violence prevention measures, to understand they are complicit when atrocities occur, such as the shooting deaths of the two journalists this morning in Roanoke? By refusing to pass legislation introduced every General Assembly session to require background checks on all gun sales and to keep guns away from domestic violence abusers they are aiding and abetting dangerous individuals who could harm others.
It is time for accountability. Every resident of the Commonwealth should check the voting records of their elected officials and if they have not supported these life-saving measures, remember that at the ballot box. Thirty-two killed at Virginia Tech. Two journalists killed in Roanoke, and tens of thousands killed with guns every year. What will it take?