To the Editor:
Keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people is just common sense – but sadly, in Virginia, our system is backwards and works to protect criminal access to guns.
Recently, some of our lawmakers tried to fix this conundrum with the Women and Family Protection bill, SB510. This bill would have prohibited individuals convicted of violent misdemeanors including stalking, sexual battery, or assault and battery of a family member, from possessing a firearm for a period of five years following their conviction. It passed out of the Senate with strong bipartisan support – but was killed in the House by a handful of Committee Members who sit on the Courts of Justice.
The fact that some of our elected delegates obstructed passage of common sense gun laws is terrifying. It is easy to ignore issues that do not affect us personally and gun violence always seems to affect others – but this is an issue that all Virginians should care about.
I used to be oblivious to gun violence. My eyes – like so many others – were opened to gun violence through the unspeakable tragedy of the Sandy Hook shooting. As a parent of elementary school-aged children, I was finally paying attention. My daughter's school held a meeting to reassure parents that they were taking every precaution to keep our children safe – and at this meeting the principal explained that children at my daughter’s school are at greater risk of domestic violence than a mass shooting.
What should have brought parents comfort is actually quite alarming. Domestic violence and guns are a lethal combination. Most victims of intimate partner homicide are killed with a gun, and the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that the woman will be killed. A bill like SB510 would have helped keep guns away from abusers and save lives in Virginia.
That’s why it is so disappointing that some of our delegates chose to preserve the gun rights of criminals over the safety of Virginia’s women, children and families.
In the wake of Sandy Hook, Virginia mothers are paying attention to the epidemic of gun violence in our country – we know its not just mass shootings but every day gun violence that harms our communities. And when it comes our turn to vote, we will remember who voted on the side of public safety and who did not – we will hold our political leaders accountable.
Ruth Hoffman, is the membership lead for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.