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EDITORIAL: Enough is enough

Virginians were devastated when 32 people were killed and 17 wounded at Virginia Tech in 2007. The second deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history brought unspeakable grief to a state that sends its children to the public university in Blacksburg. Citizens looked to elected leaders across the state for answers.

More than a decade later, a conflicted commonwealth sticks to its guns as school massacres continue. On Valentine’s Day, 17 people were killed in mass shooting at a Florida high school. Columbine. Sandy Hook. Virginia Tech. Now Parkland. The communities have become part of a tragic American narrative.

In Virginia, a state that brags about civility and moderation, the narrative quickly turns to a political argument.

“It’s senseless. My heart goes out,” Del. Thomas C. Wright Jr. (R-Lunenberg) told The Washington Post following last week’s shooting in Florida. “But when it comes to the constitutional right to defend yourself and your family, that's something that’s guaranteed.”

Delegate Wright’s heart is as confused as his head. Just whose family was 19-year Nikolas Cruz defending when he killed 17 people at a high school with an AR-15 assault rifle?

No one is seeking to repeal the Second Amendment. Citizens just want to ensure the safety of their children. Making it difficult to obtain an assault weapon is a good place for rational people -- including Virginia legislators -- to take reasonable action.

Wright chairs Subcommittee One of the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee, where most gun bills go to die in the Virginia legislature. The Republican-controlled House of Delegates and a strident lobbyist group, the Virginia Citizens Defense League, have effectively killed dozens of bills proposing reforms. They included closing the gun-show loophole, more rigorous background checks, requiring a minor to get parental permission before keeping guns in the home, requiring home daycare facilities to keep guns locked when children are being cared, or letting localities forbid firearms or ammunition at major public events.

Public opinion in Virginia favors reforms, but only slightly. A Quinnipiac poll last summer found that 51 percent of Virginians support stricter gun laws in general. Additionally, 91 percent said they favor requiring background checks for all gun buyers, something the legislature continues to resist.

Gov. Ralph Northam (D), a moderate on gun control, won election last fall partly on promises of common-sense gun-control measures. All of Northam’s gun-control bills have been defeated in the current legislative session, even as tragedy strikes again in schools.

Some conservative legislators think the answer is to introduce more guns into society. Following the Florida shootings, state Sen. Dick Black (R-Loudoun) offered a stark alternative to gun-control legislation: a shoot-out. Black suggests that teachers and coaches in schools be armed and shoot back.

“... we don't need to just take enemy fire; we need to fire back,” Black wrote on the web page of the Virginia Citizens Defense League. “I'm tired of telling kids to run and hide if they're attacked.”

Meantime, the powerful gun-advocacy group was celebratory last week when the entire gun-reform agenda was blocked in the Virginia legislature.

“GUN CONTROL TAKES IT ON THE CHIN. YES!!!” VCDL proclaimed on its Facebook page.

No mention on VCDL website of the horrific news from Florida that came hours earlier.

A different kind of reaction now comes from high school students who gathered in Florida and outside the White House last weekend. They demanded that adults take responsibility for the inaction on gun control that takes the lives of their classmates.

“Enough is enough,” they chanted.

Enough is enough. Opening hearts and offering prayers is an inadequate response to a problem in which the Virginia legislature, Congress and the White House turn a blind eye.

“Evidence collected over many years, obtained from many locations, indicates that the power of prayer is insufficient to stop bullets from killing school children,” the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted following the hollow responses by politicians to the Parkland killings.

You don’t have to be an astrophysicist to understand what to do. Defending gun rights in the wake of the mass murders of children is nothing short of shameful. The failure of our elected leaders to pass gun controls is nothing short of dereliction of duty.


jpl - by a few teachers, I assume you meant that you want teachers to take on the responsibility and liability for protecting your kids. And I expect you are proposing they do this with no additional funding, training, or even relief from their actual job.  I don’t understand why you think you can shirk your responsibility and put it all on the teachers, the same teachers that so many posters her say are overpaid and greedy.  How about you reaching into your own pocket and coming up with funds to pay for this additional protection - I like your original idea of an annual tax on the millions of guns to pay for additional, fully trained, security.  Stop being so cheap when it comes to your children’s safety.

davis, spend spend spend. A few teachers packing heat will make a huge difference. A school is no longer a “gun-free zone” and you can bet your annual Occupy Wall Street dues these moron shooters will find softer targets. Not complicated. Common sense. Just like my question you can’t answer.

a bit impatient JPL?  Your silly, hypothetical question cannot be answered. 

But I like the idea you are offering - adding personnel to all schools (and theaters, parks, city plazas, and all other public places).  Make sure they are military trained with a degree in counseling so they can do more than simply kill, perhaps mentor kids?  There are thousands of schools so I assume you are proposing installing teams, not just individuals.  And to pay for it, I have to assume you are proposing taxing guns and ammunition.  So, yes, I support your idea to use annual taxes on guns to pay for a few hundred thousand, military trained, armed counselors for all schools and other vulnerable spots - great idea

and davis still won’t answer my question….his silence is deafening…they can’t answer it folks

jpl - you wrote “Questions like how do you explain the high gun violence in cities where gun laws are strictest” - this is a classic NRA distraction that includes fake memes involving Chicago - but you knew that when you wrote it.

davis, I never mentioned Chicago, not sure what you are talking about. Not sure you know either. No one has answered my question yet. How many kids would the shooter have killed if a skilled marksman had been shooting back at him? NRC is answering my question with a million of his own. YOU CAN’T ANSWER IT….because it’s nothing more than common sense. A punk who is trying to avoid bullets isn’t going to be as free to walk around shooting. Give teachers who are trained to use firearms the ability to carry them at school. Watch school shootings die out, or at a minimum watch the body counts go way down. It ain’t rocket science.

nrcbtm1 - a better answer to jpl’s claim about Chicago is that is not true.  There are many articles written about this NRA claim that completely destroy it.

When we use often repeated falsehoods, spread by organizations like the NRA, then we have little chance of talking about the actual problem.

I guess the writer thinks he is smarter than the framers of the constitution….good luck trying to take away a god given right enshrined in the US constitution.  You can repeal an amendment so the anti-constitution (american) crew could go that route….arm teachers that volunteer to do so and make schools a safer place for our kids…if you want this problem solved, you will need to have arms on campus…the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun…

This argument is undercut by the reality that existing controls completely failed. How can we pragmatically and morally argue that more controls are needed when the Parkland tragedy could have been prevented by existing authorities using current laws and policies?

•The FBI received at least two tips about Nikolas Cruz but failed to follow up each time.

•Four members of the sheriff’s office were present during all or part of the shooting and failed to confront the shooter — including the deputy whose full-time duty was to protect the students.

•Cruz’s behavior resulted in local police generating at least 30 reports going back as far as 2011 withthe vast majority of the police calls resulting in “no paperwork filed.”

•Cruz was expelled last year from Stoneman Douglas for bringing knives on campus, and the mayor states Cruz “had been undergoing some treatment. We can’t go into detail on that…I don’t know if he was exactly on law enforcement’s radar, but it wasn’t like there wasn’t concern for him. He had not been back to the clinic for over a year, so there’s been a time where he was receiving treatment and then stopped.”

Isn’t the more productive approach to first address the failures of the existing system before handing over more responsibility and power and complexity to people already running the show who appears to have royally screwed up?

jplegend, I don’t count myself as antigun per se, but I will answer your questions:

How do you explain the high gun violence in cities where gun laws are strictest? In Chicago, the guns are brought in from neighboring places with lax gun laws.

Guns have been around for years, what has changed? First change was in the 1960’s as a reaction to Bobby Seals, Huey Newton and other members of Black Panther Party walking into the the US Capitol openly carrying long guns for self-protection. That led to a lot of restrictions being enacted. Then in 2008 there was a new Supreme Court’s interpretation of the 2nd Amendment that for the first time proclaimed that the “well regulated militia” clause of the 2nd Amendment was not as important as “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” clause.  Another change was the circa 1976 transformation of the NRA from its original goal of teaching marksmanship to one of lobbying against any restrictions on firearms sales. with willful disregard of the Supreme Court’s views on the matter.

What laws will prevent bad people from killing others? Murder will still be against the law.  Other first world nations with strict gun control laws do not have anything close to the gun violence that the US has.

How many kids do you think this shooter would have killed if a skilled marksman was shooting back at him? I’m not opposed to having some armed security situated inside the school buildings. Hopefully. even the knowledge that there may be a skilled marksman inside the school could deter someone from making the attempt.  But the fact that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had an armed security officer on the premises did not deter that shooter.  Having a police response from outside the building will always be too late to prevent some people being shot.  There are many issues to be worked out for this to be properly implemented.  What kinds of weapons will the teachers have, a concealed carry handgun with a relatively short range or a long gun locked in a gun safe?  Would the teach be outgunned? How often will the teachers be tested on safe handling of weapons and on marksmanship?  Safe handling training is needed to prevent accidents.

In the current reaction to the most recent massacre of school children, many public figures have claimed limitations on sale of bump stocks and high-powered large calibre semiautomatic rifles like the AR-15, would be taking away a constitutional right of citizens.  But there is no Second Amendment right for everyone in all places to possess all kinds of guns!

The landmark 2008 Supreme Court decision overturned the DC gun law and declared. for the first time in US history, that the 2nd Amendment is not limited to well-regulated militias Justice Scalia, who wrote that majority decision, also wrote the laws placing reasonable limits on who, where and what kinds of guns ARE constitutional. There is even a recording in which he clearly can be heard saying this. So stop saying that restricting AR-15’s is unconstitutional.

jplejund is right.

Why, think of how many lives would have been saved if the Donald went rushing in with or without a gun!

Just think of how many lives would have been saved by a fictional character (who didn’t get 5 deferments from serving in the armed forces and who could actually shoot and/or move quickly beyond a shuffle) who went in with guns blazing in a crowded school!

Donald would have been the best- the greatest. Way better than an actual armed policeman with training.

Parkland High school had an armed guard.  Columbine High School had armed guards- they shot back and were overwhelmed by superior firepower. So maybe what jp is saying is that whatever the armed guards are shooting back with better be a bigger gun? The biggest and greatest guns?

Davis, I will repeat my unanswered question. How many kids do you think that shooter would have killed if someone had been shooting back at him?

jplegend repeats a lie often found in facebook memes.  Looking at actual facts easily found disproves this sad attempt for an argument. But that is nothing new to him

Where’s is the critique of mental health issues, the FDA black-box warnings about anti-depressive and anti-schizophrenic medications, value of eliminating gun free school zones, failure of the FBI, failure of the local Sheriff to intervene at the scene?  Since Northam is labeled as “moderate”, where’s the line about Gov Northam taking $400k campaign donations from Mayor Bloomberg’s anti-second amendment organization?  I have children in the government school system and I value life and I’m open to a real conversation about protecting our children.  It’s difficult when the local paper of record spouts that same liberal talking points.  Shame on you!

Lots of questions I could ask, but ones the anti-gun folks can’t ever answer, so I won’t ask them again. Questions like how do you explain the high gun violence in cities where gun laws are strictest. Questions like guns have been around for years, what has changed? Questions like what laws will prevent bad people from killing others. We won’t ask those questions, you don’t have answers for them. We’ll just ask one question. You dismiss the idea of arming teachers. How many kids do you think this shooter would have killed if a skilled marksman was shooting back at him?

First, how does being an American Muslim have anything with this tragic incident?  What are you implying?
Check your facts on the 30th mass shooting because I’m curious as to what else is dumped into the definition of “mass shooting.”
You are right that there has been nothing accomplished since Sandy Hook because the Left won’t discuss anything short of full gun confiscation.  We can’t discuss mental health, concealed carry, violent TV and games, decay of the moral culture, lack of strong fathers, yadda, yadda, yadda without being shouted down as racists and murders.
As a father of children in the current government school system, and strong supporter of the Constitution, especially the second amendment, I would be open to a myriad of ideas to protect our children.
PS, Regarding Umar, not so sure Shia’s hold him in such high esteem.  I believe he was a warrior who conquered a vast amount of territory (and not without force).

Let’s have a grand bargain.  Let’s end abortion and the MILLIONS that are murdered by it and then we’ll restrict more guns.

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