I see that, according to the Washington Post, a Virginia state Senate committee has advanced seven of eight gun-control bills advocated by Governor Ralph Northam. This came only a week after the committee failed to pass a proposed assault weapons ban.
Two events brought about the committee’s action. First was the Virginia Beach shooting on May 31, 2019, when a disgruntled city employee fatally shot twelve people and wounded four others before being shot dead by police.
The other was the election last November when Democrats took over control of the state government. Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, had been pushing for greater gun control, but Republicans had defeated his efforts. Now, with Democrats empowered, it looks like gun control bills are finally going to get passed.
I’m hearing that Virginia gun support advocates, including some local sheriffs, are declaring that they will refuse to enforce the law—despite the fact that much-needed gun control is overwhelmingly popular in the state.
Let’s look at the numbers. Close to 1.4 million people died from firearms in the U.S. between 1968 and 2011. The numbers have grown in recent years. The U.S. gun-related homicide rate is 25 times higher than that in 22 other high-income countries.
And according to one study, the Small Arms Survey, U.S. civilians alone account for 393 million (about 46 percent) of the worldwide total of civilian held firearms. We have 120.5 firearms for every 100 residents. The comparable figure for Germany is 19.6. For England and Wales, it’s 4.6. In the U.S., we have more guns than we have people.
The argument I’ve heard from Virginians and others who support gun ownership is that guns are a part of American culture and tradition. My answer is that to the degree that that is true, it’s time we change our culture. Far better to alter our traditions than to accept more than a million deaths by firearms.
I suspect that only a man who has seen combat can fully appreciate the damage guns inflict on the human body. Maybe if more combat veterans spoke out, people would understand better why we need to banish guns from our civil society. I earnestly urge all my brothers in arms to bear witness.