To the editor:
Our nation continues to bear witness to senseless events of gun violence and needless deaths. Atlanta and Indianapolis have joined Las Vegas, Blacksburg, New Town, Parkland, Columbine and countless other communities across America to be scenes of mass shootings.
While gun violence has almost become commonplace in America, the other stark constant is the inaction of the U.S. Congress to enact any meaningful legislation to combat this scourge. Instead, we are left with empty thoughts and prayers from many of our federal elected officials.
Despite widespread public support for commonsense gun violence prevention, Congress fails to act time and time again. In the wake of this shameful inaction, many states and localities have seized the initiative and passed legislation to curb gun violence and we all hope these measures will be effective.
This is the case here in Virginia, oddly the home to the national headquarters of the National Rifle Association, where our legislature and governor have enacted sensible firearm provisions aimed at preventing gun violence. And now, our two U.S. senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, have boldly stepped forward to offer federal legislation patterned after the successful actions of the Commonwealth. And what is striking is their ideas make sense!
The Warner-Kaine Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence of 2021 includes popularly supported and sensible provisions such as:
• Universal background checks which close loopholes in federal laws and require background checks for all gun purchases;
• Limits on purchases of handguns to one per month to limit stockpiling and illegal gun trafficking;
• Requirements to report lost or stolen firearms to local or state enforcement agencies within 48 hours;
• Promoting safe storage of firearms by gun owners and holding them rightfully liable for leaving loaded, unsecured guns in the presence of a minor;
• Strengthening of safeguards for victims of domestic violence by closing the “boyfriend loophole” and prohibiting persons convicted of dating violence or stalking from possessing firearms; and
• Establishment of federal protective orders to temporarily remove firearms from persons who pose a high risk of harming themselves or others.
Senators Warner and Kaine should be congratulated for taking action in light of the continuing saga of gun violence, and doing so in a commonsense manner with concepts that are popularly supported by the American people. We are proud of their leadership and initiative.
We can only hope that some of their colleagues will finally open their eyes to the real and stunning concerns of everyday citizens about gun violence which seemingly touch almost every community. Lives are at stake and frankly, it is past time for Congress to act.
-Kerry J. Donley, former mayor, Alexandria