To say I feel disappointed, angry and shocked at the outcome of the General Assembly’s special legislative session in Richmond would be an understatement. Though the catalyst for the session was the tragedy in Virginia Beach, many of us came to Richmond to try, once again, to pass meaningful gun violence prevention legislation. The fact remains, since the Virginia Tech tragedy,11,000 Virginians have been killed by guns. This is a problem that shows no signs of disappearing, unless we do something about it.
And quite frankly, doing nothing is not an option.
I spoke on the floor asking the Speaker to allow us the opportunity to debate and vote on the governor’s eight bills which included:
- Legislation that would have required background checks on all firearms sales and transactions: This bill would have mandated that any person selling, renting, trading, or transferring a firearm must first obtain the results of a background check before completing the transaction.
- Legislation that would have banned assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, bump stocks and silencers.
- Legislation that would have reinstated Virginia’s previously successful law allowing only one handgun purchase within a 30-day period.
- Legislation that would have required that lost and stolen firearms be reported to law enforcement within 24 hours.
- Legislation that would have created an Extreme Risk Protective Order, allowing law enforcement and the courts to temporarily separate a person from firearms if the person exhibits dangerous behavior that presents an immediate threat to self or others.
- Legislation that would have prohibited all individuals subject to final protective orders from possessing firearms: The bill would have expanded Virginia law which currently prohibits individuals subject to final protective orders of family abuse from possessing firearms.
- Legislation that would have enhanced the punishment for allowing access to a loaded, unsecured firearm by a child from a Class 3 Misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony. The bill would have also raised the child’s age designation from 14 to 18.
- Legislation that would have enabled localities to enact any firearms ordinances that are stricter than state law (including regulating firearms in municipal buildings, libraries and at permitted events).
These bills were straight forward legislation that addresses the critical issue of gun violence. I firmly believe that by passing these eight bills, we could save lives. We could make Virginians safer. To me, this was not about politics. Nor about partisanship. It was about doing what is right for the Commonwealth.
Unfortunately, just 90 minutes after the session gaveled in, the Republicans moved to adjourn until November 18th, after the election, and did so with my objection (as well as the objection of the rest of the House Democratic Caucus). Their inaction speaks volumes.
People are dying from gun violence regularly. It is not just mass shootings. It is intimate partner violence. It is suicide. It is young children picking up an unsecured firearm by accident. In the editorial that Senator Dick Saslaw and I wrote for the Washington Post, we stated that, “Gun-violence prevention does not have to be a partisan issue. When thousands of Virginians are dying, the Virginia General Assembly needs to come together to enact meaningful reforms. Virginians deserve action, and they deserve to see their legislators vote on solutions which prevent gun violence. Victims of gun violence and their families are in our thoughts and prayers; they should also be at the heart of our votes and laws.”
Best of Braddock
This past Wednesday, the Braddock District Council honored several of my constituents from the 41st District on Wednesday at the Best of Braddock Awards. Congratulations to all the winners below:
Young Persons of the Year – Students from the North Springfield Community
Elizabeth Porter, Anna Balbuena, Ella McGinty, Evyn Vanbrunt, Megan Brown, Liam McGinty, Katie Pope, and James Kendall
Organization Making a Difference in the Braddock District
The Shepherd’s Center of Fairfax-Burke
Neighborhood Enhancement or Beautification – Individual
John “Craig” Willet, Burke Centre Conservancy
Neighborhood Enhancement or Beautification – Community Association
Melissa and Jarrett Stark, Hickory Farms Community Association
Steven Shapiro, Burke Centre Conservancy
John Firsching, Olde Forge/Surrey Square Civic Association
Todd Skipper, Little Run Citizens’ Association
Braddock District Citizen of the Year
Joan Bishop, Olde Forge/Surrey Square Civic Association
I am incredibly proud of the active civic engagement all the winners have displayed. I look forward to their continuing dedication to our community.
It was wonderful to join ArtsFairfax, Chairman Sharon Bulova, Supervisor Pat Herrity and many others at the unveiling of Springfield: INOUT, a new public art installation at the Old Keene Mill Shopping Center (the northwest corner of Old Keene Mill and Rolling Roads), right in the 41st District. This temporary installation, in the shopping center’s parking lot, is designed to gather public input and raise awareness for arts in the community.
The fact is, public funding for the arts ensures that creativity is not the purview of a privileged few, but cultural opportunities will be readily accessible to all Fairfax County residents regardless of their location, social or economic position, age, or circumstance. INOUT showcases that. It is art that is accessible to and reflective of the Fairfax County community. I am proud that this temporary installation will be in our District and I am proud to serve on the ArtsFairfax Board. Check out the video about the project here.
Repairs on Prosperity Avenue
As you may know, heavy rains last week significantly impacted many roads throughout Fairfax County, including Prosperity Avenue near Morningside Drive. Please know my office is monitoring the situation and is in close contact with VDOT. Most recently, we learned Friday that unfortunately the repairs at Prosperity will require longer term repairs. I will keep you apprised as I learn of further updates. You can continue to report road issues to my.vdot.virginia.gov, which allows you to pinpoint locations as well as add photos that will be routed directly to local VDOT crews for review and log in to check request status.Additionally, you can always contact my office as well.
U.S. Women’s National Team and the World Cup
I know I mentioned our great national team’s success during the World Cup in the quarterfinals, but I would be remiss if I did not congratulate them on their success as back to back World Cup Champions in this edition of the enews. In fact, we can all thank a Robinson alumna for helping the team get there. US Women’s National Team Head Coach Jill Ellis grew up in this area and helped lead the Rams Girl’s Soccer team to their 1984 Championship. Congratulations ladies, you make us all proud!