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Where They Stand on Gun Violence

Unlike Warner and Kaine, Wolf is mostly silent on regulating firearms.

After the terrible mass shootings in a Connecticut elementary school on Dec. 14, some of our elected leaders have said that we need to take another look at regulations on firearms, along with other issues such as mental health care and violent video games.

President Obama outlined some of the measures that might be taken to reduce the unacceptable level of gun violence in this country, measures that he said a majority of Americans support – banning the sale of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips, and requiring background checks before all gun purchases.

I have stated my feelings on this subject before, in a column written on the anniversary of the mass shootings at Virginia Tech. All of the above measures strike me as being reasonable regulations that are consistent with Americans’ Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.

So where do our members of Congress stand on this issue?

Senator Mark Warner

Virginia Senator Mark Warner, who has long championed the rghts of gun owners, was one of the first elected officials to speak out about the need for more regulation.

In a Dec. 17 interview, Warner said, “Enough is enough…I, like I think most of us, realize that there are ways to get to rational gun control. There are ways to grapple with the obvious challenges of mental illness. And the idea that we can just kind of ignore this issue…I join with the President and, I think, reasonable folks in both parties and…the overwhelming majority of Americans who are gun owners, who believe that we’ve got to put stricter rules on the books.”

“It is time for this kind of senseless violence to end,” Warner said. “There won’t be one perfect law that’s going to stop a crazy person from doing evil things, but when we have close to 30,000 killings a year from all types of gun violence, even if we save a few lives, we make progress.”

Three days later, Warner said in an NPR interview: “It appears to me that as technology has moved forward and firearms have become more effective, mostly for our troops in the field in Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly with these high capacity magazines, that as these weapons that were built for the battlefield are slightly modified and then sold to the public, that we need to take a look at that. I don’t think changing gun laws alone is going to completely solve the problem. Clearly, we have to take a fresh look at issues around mental illness. But the idea that we can simply say, okay, status quo, just doesn’t feel right in my gut. You know, enough is enough.”

“Are there ways that we should look at these high capacity magazines so that, particularly people that are not militarily trained, can’t get off so many rounds so quickly, yeah that seems to me to be a place that responsible people can look for part of a solution,” Warner said. “You know, the one thing I do know is the status quo is not acceptable.”

Senator-Elect Tim Kaine

I was unable to find a recent statement on gun regulations from Senator-Elect Tim Kaine. But last year, shortly after the shootings in Tucson that killed six people and severely wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Kaine said that he supported measures to restrict the number of bullets that can be fired from a single magazine.

Kaine said that he supported proposed legislation that would limit high-capacity clips to no more than ten bullets, "back from the days when there was an assault weapons ban, before it expired.”

“I have long been a supporter of what I think are reasonable regulations, the kind contemplated, frankly, by the Second Amendment, and I think those and others would be reasonable. In Virginia we worked in the aftermath of Virginia Tech to do some important things here and nationally on the databases of folks who have been adjudicated mentally ill and dangerous so that they couldn't purchase guns.”

Congressman Frank Wolf

In a statement issued on Dec. 17, Congressman Frank Wolf mostly avoided the subject of regulations on assault weapons and other firearms.

“The causes of these attacks are complex and offer no single solution,” he said.

Wolf said that he supports a proposal to create a national commission on mass violence, and that he has “long-advocated for measures that prevent health insurers from placing discriminatory restrictions on mental health and addiction treatments, and remain hopeful that the nearly 20 million Americans who suffer from mental illness receive the treatment they require.”

Wolf said that he has supported increased funding for the national background check system to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill and violent criminals, and that he has “repeatedly cosponsored legislation protecting children from violent and sexually explicit video games and Hollywood films.”

“We must examine every possible option and do everything in our power to protect our citizens from heinous crimes like these,” Wolf concluded.

Wolf’s statement lacks specifics on what changes in gun regulations he would be willing to support, or even to consider. This is disappointing, although I see a glimmer of hope in his statement that we need to examine every possible option.

Over the years, Wolf has at times demonstrated an independent streak. He courageously stood up to Grover Norquist and the “no tax pledge” when few Republicans were doing so. I hope he will similarly stand up to NRA and Republican Party orthodoxy and support reasonable regulations on weapons whose sole purpose is to kill lots of people in a short amount of time.

Eric K. December 27, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Only reason I didn't vote for Wolf is the bigger picture in the House- Tea Party and Republican control. I think he's pretty good individually, but he's got to show some independence on gun control and fiscal cliff if I'm going to support him next time.
Sharan J. Hill December 27, 2012 at 04:44 PM
It is terribly embarrassing to be a native Virginian since this state provides a great preponderance of illegal weapons.
Michael Kimmel December 27, 2012 at 06:11 PM
And then you have Dick Black you wants to arm teachers with guns in the classroom. That is one of the most foolish ideas i've ever heard.
Rose Rowe December 27, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Innocent people are dying. Guns make it too easy to kill. Period. Please sign this petition because we need to convince Senator Ayotte to vote for any upcoming legislation to ban assault weapons, which she currently opposes. Tell everyone you know to sign. It doesn’t matter where you live, her vote affects us all. Thank you. http://www.change.org/petitions/kelly-ayotte-make-assault-weapons-illegal?utm_source=guides&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=petition_created
Donna Parker Gavan December 28, 2012 at 05:41 PM
It is reasonable to arm responsible adults to protect our children. If the principal of Sandy Hook had had a weapon she might have been able to prevent the mass murder of children. It's like breaking and entering into someone's home, you have the right to defend yourself from someone perpetrating a crime against you. We certainly have the right to defend our children.
M December 30, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Gun control is only going to take guns out of normal Americans trying to defend themselves and their family. Criminals are able to get guns beyond the law...if we are worried as a nation about the children than why do we as taxpayers fund abortion. Nearly an entire generation of black children have been aborted in the US. Shame on US!
Eric K. December 30, 2012 at 06:03 AM
Look, it seems logical that if we all have guns we can protect ourselves. But studies show that more innocent people are killed because of guns in homes that got stolen or accidentally discharged, that guns don't prevent many crimes. And for every person who is well trained and knowledgeable with a gun, there are 10 dopes who don't know how to use one or keep it secure. So I'm more afraid of all the potential accidents than an actual crime being perpetrated on me with a gun. We can't start arming our teachers in the classroom - that's just emotion taking over. It doesn't make sense. They are teachers - they didn't sign up to be law enforcement, air marshals, soldiers and learn to use a gun. I bet you'd have more incidents with teachers going off the deep end or getting their guns stolen by kids, and those incidents would lead to deaths. And please don't give me the tired argument that criminals will get guns anyway. Yes, some will. But others won't. So that means you're reducing the chance of murder by guns - not eliminating it. But that seems better than the status quo, I'd say.
Clairia Jackson December 30, 2012 at 06:28 PM
In all the mass shooting, one commonality exists except in the Guilford shooting, they all took place in "gun-free" zones. The Guilford shooting was an assasination attempt. Since the Sandy Hook incident, the three attempted mass killings failed because they were in low gun control states: Alabama hospital, shot by a guard; Texas theater, shot by off duty police officer; Oregon mall, killer took own life when confronted by concealed hand gun permit holder. Highest crime rates are in cities with the strictest laws. European countries with extreme restrictions have double our crime rates. Obama, through NDAA, tried to revoke Amendments 1, 5, 6, 8, the courts stopped him, but he tried to appeal the decision. The 2nd is the "We the People" checks and balance to stop the gov't from over stepping the Constitution. Feinstein would like to over turn the 2nd, yet she has a concealed hand gun permit (CA). In New York city, Bloomberg is for disarmerment, but has armed body guards, the police there due routine illegal search and seizure on motorists. The real answer is education. Make a gun safety class available to high school students, using blue guns, instilling responsibility, plus understanding that a text book can stop a bullet, among other survival techniques in gun free zones.
Donna Parker Gavan December 30, 2012 at 09:19 PM
The correlation between gun ownership and innocent people killed is a statistical fallacy. I would point to the book "Freakanomics" where they show that your child is safer at the house with the gun then the house with the pool. Deaths caused by guns don't even make the top 15 causes of death in our country (CDC-http://www.theblaze.com/stories/will-banning-guns-stop-homicides-stats-from-england-and-australia-show/) and currently D.C. is on track to have their lowest homicide rate since 1963 due in part to the restrictions on gun ownership being lifted via the Supreme Court. How many gun owners do you know? I know of no legal gun owner that is a dope. Conversely, they are well informed as to the handling and use of a firearm. I am in no way suggesting mandating teachers/administrators carry guns and for those who choose to carry the firearms would have to be stored in a biometric safe that is easily accessible. What you call a tired old argument about criminals getting guns anyway is just a statement of truth. It's not some will, it's most will. Very few will not.(Freakanomics). Emotion is not a issue in this discussion; to the contrary reason and logic are at the fore front. Have you ever practiced your second amendment right? It's not to late.
Donna Parker Gavan December 30, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Amen!
Eric K. December 31, 2012 at 04:50 AM
Don't have data at my fingertips, but I think there's evidence out there that the few instances of people with concealed weapons making a difference in stopping crimes is outweighed by accidents, or the fact that incidents are stopped just b/c people have guns. My recollection is that murder rates in Europe are far less than in the U.S. But look, gun advocates are creating a red herring here. Nobody is saying take all guns away from everybody. Just the most destructive ones. This isn't 1776 anymore when people carried single-shot muskets. We just want to get rid of weapons of war that can mow down people. Semi-automatic, repeatable fire weapons.They don't belong in regular society. Can't we agree that there needs to be reform on a variety of things - including mental health? But how can we make any progress if people are absolutist about "gun rights." Courts have shown that rights in other areas, like speech, are not unlimited. So some restrictions seem reasonable. Personally, I'd do away with almost all guns. But I'm willing to let go of those beliefs and just focus on what has the best chance of success- getting rid of military-style weapons and large clips. Can't the gun advocates compromise a bit too?
Joey January 05, 2013 at 01:01 PM
http://1389blog.com/2012/12/23/larry-correia-refutes-the-gun-controllers-once-and-for-all/
Eric K. January 05, 2013 at 03:10 PM
I'd recommend that everyone watch the CBS Evening News segment on Jan. 5 in which a mother in Newtown, Conn., who is an NRA supporter and gun owner, has come to the painful realization that some reasonable legislation to manage gun use is needed. She was a stalwart supporter of NRA positions, but now says she believes background checks, limits on the size of magazines and some other steps make sense if done properly. She thinks putting armed guards in every school is stupid - it would just create more fear among students and make school an unpleasant place. Check it out. http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50138259n This is where the conversation has to start and people like her are realizing there is a middle ground, that absolutism about gun rights is bad.
Donna Parker Gavan January 05, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Joey! Nice link!
Donna Parker Gavan January 05, 2013 at 08:52 PM
So Eric, you think that a mothers emotional response is acceptable for your side of the discussion?
Eric K. January 05, 2013 at 09:24 PM
Well, I think the incident has opened her eyes. She's had a few weeks to reflect, so it's not purely emotional. I'm sure others are also reevaluating their positions. What's wrong with that? They may have more insight b/c they know guns and favor guns, but now are bringing some other inputs to form their opinion.
Donna Parker Gavan January 05, 2013 at 10:08 PM
Just trying to reconcile your previous statement. Nothing wrong with that at all. Kudos to anyone that keeps an open mind and evaluates based on the facts. I am sure that the tragedy opened her eyes in many ways and I will certainly agree with her that there should not be armed guards in schools. Have you had the opportunity to look at the link that Joey posted? A very objective, factually supported and well thought out article.

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