State needs to take action on guns

As we once again mourn the victims of a senseless mass shooting, the perpetual call to action once again goes unheeded in Washington.

Although courts have long debated the meaning of the word “militia,” there can be no mistaking the meaning of the very first words of the Second Amendment, which call for “A well regulated militia” (emphasis mine) which might well be our National Guard. It emphasizes the “security of a free State,” and was written when fear of foreign invasion was still vivid in the framers’ memories. It is hard to imagine that the intent of the Founding Fathers was to allow the random sale of assault rifles used only for killing fellow citizens.

Unfortunately for our country, some politicians have used so-called “gun rights” as a rallying cry to inflame their bases, creating a culture of violence. They whip up paranoia and votes by ignoring common sense and their duty to protect our people. They are also beholden to the powerful gun lobby. Directly and through PACs, the NRA donates not only to Congressional campaigns, but also to Congressional committees. My Congressman, Rep. Rob Wittman, ranks second in Virginia’s delegation only to Rep. Goodlatte for accepting NRA contributions from 1998-2018. But direct donations are a small portion of the almost $60,000,000 the NRA spent in 2016, primarily on “independent expenditures,” such as ads run outside of the campaign proper and thus not reportable as a donation.

The issue extends to our state government. Virginia is known as a gun haven, especially for unlicensed, private traders, who are not required to do background checks. Gun control bills are, this session, always killed in committee, even something as innocuously sensible as requiring licensed day care providers to lock up any guns on the premises. Our representatives in Richmond never even get to vote on gun measures.

There are reasonable solutions to the gun issue, such as better control of ammunition as well as guns, thorough background checks, control of private sales, etc. No one wants to deprive hunters of their legitimately used shotguns, but the proliferation of guns designed only to kill people has reached ridiculous, tragic proportions.

Until legislators remove the shackles of gun lobby funding, value lives above votes, care about country above party and move forward with long-overdue, sensible regulation of the gun industry, the degradation of our democracy and the blood of even more innocents will be the price for their complicity.

Virginia S. Dopp


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