60 Virginia lawmakers address guns in wake of Chesapeake shooting

Responses ranged from wanting more gun control to “thoughts and prayers” for the families of the victims of the recent mass shooting.

VIRGINIA, USA – In the face of yet another mass shooting, WUSA9 reached out to all 140 Virginia legislators in the General Assembly to ask how they would prevent further gun violence.

WUSA9 made the motions after a week and a half of violence in the Commonwealth.

On Tuesday night, an employee entered the Chesapeake Walmart before shooting and killing six of his co-workers. The shooter eventually died by suicide.

The Gun Violence Archive noted that the incident was the third mass shooting in Virginia in ten days.

On November 18, police found a mother and her three children shot dead at their Chesterfield home.

A day earlier, a University of Virginia student opened fire on his classmates on a bus in Charlottesville. The shooting killed three members of the school’s soccer team.

WUSA9 asked members of the General Assembly: Should lawmakers pass more gun control measures in the upcoming session or not?

Twenty-four of the 40 members of the Virginia Senate have issued statements to WUSA9 or commented on the Chesapeake shooting on their social media accounts. Meanwhile, 35 of the 100 members of the Virginia House did the same.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, member statements show marked differences in how they would like to address gun violence in the community. Some are adamant that more gun control laws should be passed in the Commonwealth, while others said if anyone could figure out how to deal with “evil” from the “human heart” they were “all ears”.

VA Senator Adam Ebbin discusses gun control.

The words “thoughts” and/or “prayers” are used in the written statements of 23 members of the Virginia House of Representatives and Senate. The word “control” in relation to gun control is used in five statements. The word “legislation” occurs in ten statements. While the word “mental” appears in nine statements related to mental health.

If you’d like to see what your lawmakers have to say about gun violence prevention, zoom in and click on the map below. Once you are there, click on your Virginia location to find your relevant legislature. If no statement is shown, it means that lawmakers did not provide WUSA9 with a statement or comment on the Chesapeake shooting on Twitter or Facebook.

In 2020, former Democratic Republic of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed several gun control measures into law. The bills included universal background checks, restrictions on children’s access to guns, limits on monthly handgun purchases, reporting of lost or stolen firearms, and an extreme risk protection order.

However, Northam’s push to ban the sale of assault weapons fell through after members of his own party rejected the proposal in committee.

Still, these policy changes came as no surprise after Democrats took control of the Statehouse the previous year.

In 2022, when the next session begins, it will be different. Republicans will control both the House of Representatives and the Executive Branch.

On Wednesday, Republican House Speaker Todd Gilbert criticized Democrats’ past gun control efforts.

“The human condition seems more and more broken. Between 2020 and 2022, the Virginia Democrats enacted some of the toughest gun control laws in America, knowing it would not end this type of violence. This year, the General Assembly approved Project Ceasefire to help end the growing gang violence in Virginia and our nation. The two most recent shootings are still under investigation and we don’t know enough about what happened to know if any legislative action would make a difference. That being said, if anyone can tell us how to legislate evil from the heart of the people without depriving law-abiding citizens of their constitutionally protected rights, I’m all ears.”

Current Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin also declined to speak on gun control proposals when questioned by the media in Chesapeake on Wednesday.

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