PARKSLEY, VA-Last week’s mass shooting in Virginia Beach has sparked debate nationally and locally on gun legislation.
Though many have expressed their horror and grief over the senseless killings, many responsible gun owners are sounding off, saying the poor decision of one shooter is not a reflection of all gun owners.
People like Paige Bailey, a local in Parksley, Virginia said, “It’s crazy. Guns are just an extension of the people that have them, guns don’t kill,” he said.
“When they get enough sense to realize some people don’t belong [with] them, and they find out how to fix that problem, then all of your murderers and shootings and criminals will quit.”
Northam’s bills include a ban on silencers and high-capacity magazines, as well as a broadening of the ability of local governments to limit guns in city buildings.
The governor said he also wants mandatory, universal background checks before gun purchases; a limit of one handgun purchase per month; and a “red flag” law that would allow authorities to seize the weapons of those who are a threat to themselves or others.
Data shows Virginia is among 42 states that allow people to own suppressors, though some cities, including Virginia Beach prohibit them.
Northam said last year, over a thousand Virginians died due to gun violence in 2017. He hopes this special session will cut down on those numbers.
So does local Shirley Nedab, who says she was horrified to learn of the shooting.
“Just shock, total shock, and my question is why?” she said.
Nedab says something must be done and she supports extensive background checks and limiting silencers and high clip ammunition.
“Why do they make that in the first place? We use that in combat and war, not for sport.”
After the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, in which a student with a history of mental problems shot 32 people to death, the state passed a law prohibiting people adjudicated as seriously mentally ill from buying a gun. But a push at the time for universal background checks failed.
Most of the other legislation proposed this time also fell short before in Virginia, where Republicans hold slim majorities in the House and Senate. All 140 legislative seats are up for grabs this year, and the Democrats are thought to have a realistic chance of taking back control of the General Assembly.