May 31, 2019— Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who leads the gun violence prevention organization Giffords, released the following statement in response to the shooting that killed at least 12 people and injured at least 4 today in Virginia Beach:
“We’re only 151 days into 2019 and there have already been 150 mass shootings. This reality is horrifying. It’s heartbreaking. And the fact that our nation’s leaders continue to fail to protect us should fuel outrage in every American.
“The stories of survivors from Virginia Beach touch on a familiar refrain: the peace of the workday shattered by the sound of gunfire. Coworkers huddled on the floor trying to stay quiet as the shooting gets closer. The disbelief that it’s finally happening to them. Our hearts and our sorrow are in Virginia tonight.
“If gun violence feels like an everyday occurrence, that’s because it is. Every single day, nearly 100 lives are lost because of guns. Every time you hear news of another horrific shooting, remind yourself this is not normal. No other developed nation in the world experiences this kind of daily heartbreak and horror.
“Gun violence is a problem we can address. We know there are steps we can take as a country to keep deadly weapons from landing in dangerous hands. We are a country of citizens crying out for a response to this epidemic of gun violence, but whether it’s in Richmond or Washington DC, there are politicians who take the gun lobby’s money and vote against our safety. It’s time for that to change. Our leaders must work to protect us. And if they don’t, we must elect new leaders. It’s been nearly 100 days since the US House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act. How many more lives will be lost before Majority Leader McConnell and President Trump take the next steps to sign that lifesaving legislation into law?”
In Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s annual scorecard, Virginia earned a D for its weak gun laws. Earlier this year, a number of local lawmakers who ran on a commitment to address gun violence made a push to strengthen Virginia’s laws. They fought for a number of strong gun safety measures, including expanding background checks, establishing an extreme risk protection order, banning bump stocks, and keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.
These measures, backed by Virginians, were voted down in committee by the Republican majority. The actions by those lawmakers to block comprehensive gun safety legislation came at a time when every 10 hours someone in Virginia was killed by a gun and when the crisis cost the state $5.3 billion a year. As a result of this refusal, Giffords recently began a push to bring a gun safety majority to the Virginia legislature with its first endorsements of the 2019 cycle.