We Need Substance, Not Symbolism, on Gun Safety

An Open Letter to the Virginia Legislature

By Tom Curtin

I understand Governor Ralph Northam called for an emergency session on July 9, 2019, to ask the legislature for increased gun regulation in the Commonwealth. Governor Northam indicated this action was based on the recent shooting in the Virginia Beach Municipal Building.

Existing laws failed to deter the Virginia Beach shooter. The laws and regulations at the building prohibited open and concealed carry for all who are present. It took only one idiot to break those laws and regulations to kill and injure many people in just a few minutes.

If people working in or visiting the Virginia Beach Municipal Building had been allowed to carry their weapons, it might have made the shooter think twice about having “easy pickings.” He might have been deterred from carrying out his cowardly attack. If he was stupid enough to continue, armed people that he encountered might have been able to stop him after minimum damage had been done.

There is an old saying, “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”

I understand it is acceptable to carry at the state legislature. It is not a surprise that no idiot has attempted to shoot up your place of business. Also, no one ever shoots up a “gun show.” Even the idiots are smart enough to figure that is a losing proposition.

More “thou shalt nots” on a piece of paper is not the solution for a safer virginia. Better training of potential concealed carry personnel is a better idea. Training of employers and employees to evaluate when a person is getting so desperate so as to try and take guns to a workplace to solve a perceived grievance would be a better move on your part. There were 298 deaths in Virginia as a result of assault by firearms; seven by accidental discharge of a firearm; and 607 suicides. There were 768 deaths by falls and 751 by vehicle accidents.

Another 3,346 were killed in “accidents,” and 16,889 died of heart disease. You would be better off trying to legislate better eating and driving habits in Virginia. Plus, those activities are not mentioned or protected in the US Constitution. You can find the statistics at VHDA.virginia.gov.

There are a lot of reports that just the presence of a weapon held by a “good guy with a gun” have deterred tragedies from happening. Unfortunately we only hear about those incidents in “gun” magazines. The rest of the media are obsessed with “if it bleeds, it leads.” That sells more papers and ad time on TV and the Internet.

Making it harder for Virginians to utilize their 2nd Amendment rights is not the answer. Longer wait times, increased investigations, exorbitant fees, and huge and expensive databases about who has followed the law won’t curtail violence, either. Criminals and nut cases will not pay any attention to what Governor Northam proposes. Creating more responsible armed citizens is a better deterrent against criminality than pieces of paper. We will be watching you.

Clifton resident Tom Curtin is a former career infantry officer and has been a realtor for the last 34 years.

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