Congratulations South Hampton Roads LWV First VP, Leelynn Brady for being selected by Governor Northam to serve on the Statewide Independent Living Council!
Morgan Johns’ testimony before the Virginia State Crime Commission hearings on proposed Gun Safety Legislation. Here is her statement:
My name is Morgan Johns and I appreciate the opportunity to speak today.
Young people are always looking down at their phones, aren’t they? Scrolling through selfies, sunsets – shooting, shooting, #Gilroystrong, #Daytonstrong, #ElPasostrong, 34 dead, 64 wounded in one week – we are algorithmically predisposed to look down because we are terrified to look up.
I once missed days of school because two students were planning to open fire during an evacuation they’d instigate. They’re still in jail. Earlier this year, I was standing across the wall from shots fired in student housing. A couple of weeks ago, I was threatened to be “shot in the face” on the street.
By keeping military-grade weapons easily accessible, you are drafting people like me onto the front lines. It should go without saying that more gun usage means more potential for gun violence. That is kindergarten logic – and if you think that comparison is inappropriate, remember that they are currently being told to lay still and act dead in active shooter drills. That is how you are raising the next generation.
In response to the opposition –
If you claim self-defense as a motive, I would ask – from whom are you actually defending yourself? Chances are, it is an irrational, hate-based fear. Of course your individual life is important, but to protect it against a pretense at the expense of hundreds dying weekly is shameful.
Speaker Cox’s original recommendation for Governor Northam to respond to Virginia Beach through our same protocols as Parkland and, more notably, Virginia Tech, is incredibly ignorant to the exponential frequency and normalization since them. Not to mention that those supposed protocols failed to prevent the 11,000 deaths occurring as a result.
Today, the opposition itself has stated that universal background checks, magazine limits, and mental illness checks would not have prevented any mass shootings from VT forward – thus, inherently arguing that the only prevention could have been a lack of gun access. As someone said, sober drivers are not to blame for drunk driving accidents – but alcohol is.
I have witnessed many such as this, where leaders did just that – hearing – not necessarily listening. Remember that the line separating the two is only ever as wide as the thread used to stitch up a bullet wound.
President Deb Wake represented the League of Women Voters® of Virginia during the public comments session of the Virginia State Crime Commission hearings on proposed Gun Safety Legislation.
Here is her statement:
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization formed nearly 100 years ago out of the Suffragist Movement. After women won the right to vote, it was important to educate the new voters through the study of issues and the formation of positions through consensus. These positions also serve as the basis for advocacy. Our positions on gun safety can be found on the national website: https://www.lwv.org/impact-issues. “From its inception, the League …worked for equal rights and social reforms. In the early years, the League was one of the first organizations to address such issues as child welfare, maternal and child health programs, child labor protections, and laws that discriminated against women….In the 1990s, concern for violence prevention spurred a new League position and brought strong support for commonsense measures to control gun violence. The League supported the Brady bill and sought to close loopholes that undermine consumer safety.”
The League of Women Voters does not support or oppose candidates or political parties. Instead, we focus on issues and policies. Many of these issues, like gun violence prevention, have become hot-button topics. It is important when emotions run high on both sides of sensitive issues, to look for common ground and solutions found effective by the overwhelming body of rigorous research.
This year we are celebrating the 400th anniversary of Representative Democracy. We cherish and embrace a form of government that places power in the hands of the people–people who elect their peers to represent them and to make laws for the common good. We have a public safety health crisis and it is imperative that lawmakers work together for a solution.
Yesterday was spent listening to expert testimony and viewing data relating to gun violence. While it is important to make informed decisions, if we truly care about governance and public safety, there comes a time when lawmakers must make hard choices and pass laws for the benefit of their constituents and for Virginia as a whole. We have not seen legislative solutions in the wake of mass shootings in the 12 years since Virginia Tech or in the two months since Virginia Beach. It breaks my heart that we are teaching 5-year-olds– 5-year-old children– duck and cover drills because we refuse to pass laws to keep them safe. Our representative democracy is failing our children and all those who have been victims of gun violence or are fearful of becoming victims because we have no laws to protect them.
The problem is not gangs. The problem is troubled people with easy access to guns. The League of Women Voters of Virginia has reviewed the studies. We urge you to support universal background checks with a waiting period, to make sure that those who should not have guns are not able to easily access them. We urge you to support red flag laws to protect those who would harm themselves or the people close to them. We urge you to strengthen permanent protective orders and to provide access to emergency protective orders disarming domestic abusers. We urge you to adopt stronger child access prevention laws. Researchers in Virginia and throughout America have found that these are effective solutions for preventing suicides and homicides.
A recent Wason Center poll found that the vast majority of Virginians want true, effective action. (https://cnu.edu/wasoncenter/surveys/2019-07-03-gun-issues-survey/) States with stronger gun laws see fewer children dying of gunshots. Gun availability is a risk factor for homicide and for suicide. The facts are clear. As a nonpartisan organization of thousands of Virginians, we urge you to stop delaying and to take action now.
Deb Wake (she/her)
Transparency Virginia’s 2019 annual report on legislative transparency. From Transparency Virginia https://t.co/q5yLMWDmcX
— LWV of Virginia (@LWVVA) July 30, 2019
Get a sneak peak at planned events of the Alabama Women’s Suffrage Centennial Committee (AWSCC) in the June issue of LWVAL newsletter The Voter, now posted! https://t.co/ZTldcOy6nZ #19thAmendment #WomenSuffrage #LWV100 pic.twitter.com/WNGAYwx71Z
— LWVGB (@LWVGB) July 20, 2019
“Push Notifications” are now on the lwv-va.org website. You will see a prompt to either allow or deny these notifications. When we add a new post or new we will let you know by sending out a notification.
Please be patient. This is a new feature and is taking a bit of time to fully understand.
Given today’s events, there will be another Press Release coming shortly, here is the one that was sent on the evening of the 8th by LWV of Virginia President, Deb Wake:
Virginia Legislators should work together to reduce gun violence.
The League of Women Voters of Virginia urges the General Assembly to reach across the aisle to pass sensible common sense policies to curb gun violence.
RICHMOND – Tuesday, July 9th, the Virginia General Assembly will convene a special session of the state legislature to take up gun safety measures in the wake of the mass shooting in Virginia Beach. The League of Women Voters of Virginia appreciates that our elected officials are addressing the need for gun violence prevention in the wake of the yet another tragedy in our state. We urge them to reach across the aisle to pass common-sense solutions including establishing universal background checks on all gun sales, and banning the sale of assault weapons, bump stocks, and high capacity magazines.
Curbing gun violence is a critical matter of public safety and public health as it is a far too common part of every life in Virginia. In the twelve years between the shootings at Virginia Tech and at Virginia Beach, gunfire has killed more than 11,000 Virginians. We need common sense gun laws both to prevent mass shootings and to protect Virginians from the every-day traumatic effects of gun violence.
The assembly has refused to act on previous efforts to reduce gun violence and to address this public health and safety crisis. In the wake of the devastating mass shooting in Virginia Beach, we need to reassure Virginia residents that our state is a safe place to live, work, and raise families. It is time for us to work together to pass legislative solutions to protect our children and our citizens from gun violence in Virginia.