FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 16, 2021
Alyson Malinger, West End Strategy Team
In the 14 Years Since Virginia Tech Shooting, Commonwealth Prioritizes Gun Violence Prevention
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has spearheaded efforts to strengthen firearm safety laws in Virginia, nationwide
RICHMOND — As Virginia marks 14 years since the mass shooting at Virginia Tech, when an undergraduate student killed 32 people and wounded 17 others with two semi-automatic pistols, Virginia gun violence prevention advocates are noting the ways the terrible tragedy was a turning point that mobilized advocacy efforts and shifted the commonwealth’s political landscape to prioritize gun violence prevention policies and candidates who legislate to keep Virginians safe. The solemn anniversary comes as yet another mass shooter killed 8 people in Indianapolis overnight.
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Virginia State Director Lori Haas, the mother of a victim in the Virginia Tech shooting who was shot twice and survived, issued the following reflection on the Commonwealth’s efforts to combat the public health epidemic of gun violence in the 14 years since the shooting:
“April 16, 2007 changed my life forever when I received a call from my 19-year-old daughter letting me know that she had been shot twice while in French class.
“Because of this experience, I learned through my heartbreak and fear about some of the gaping holes in Virginia’s gun laws that allowed the shooter to have easy access to firearms. In the 14 years since, I have led the efforts in the commonwealth — including partnering with parents and families devastated by the ongoing toll of community gun violence in Virginia — to build a world where gun violence is rare and abnormal.
“In many ways, the shooting at Virginia Tech was an eye-opening experience for Virginians. Yet cooperative efforts to institute background checks, a specific policy recommendation from the Virginia Tech review panel who analyzed the shooting, took 13 years to pass in the state. Although it required over a decade of lobbying and grassroots advocacy, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and our allies never wavered in our efforts to make Virginia safer.
“In the last two sessions of the Virginia General Assembly, over 20 bills were signed into law that specifically strengthen firearm safety — an achievement that is a direct result of the sustained advocacy efforts that was mobilized in the wake of Virginia Tech. The bills protect our democratic freedoms such as the right to vote and gather at the Virginia Capitol free from armed intimidation, and prohibit domestic abusers from possessing firearms. All of these laws will build a safer commonwealth.
“The passage of these pieces of legislation and other policy efforts shows Virginia’s commitment to making public health and safety a top priority. Nevertheless, we know that the work continues. There have been more than 128 mass shootings in the United States since the beginning of 2021 alone, including one mass shooting in Indianapolis overnight killing eight people and wounding several others. Each year 40,000 Americans die from gun violence, killing more people than car crashes; this country must address gun violence in all its forms. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence applauds Virginia delegates and senators who have listened to their constituents and championed safety, and we will continue our efforts to make communities across the country safer.”
About the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
Founded in 1974, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is the nation’s oldest gun violence prevention organization. We believe gun violence should be rare and abnormal. CSGV develops and advocates for evidence-based solutions to reduce gun injury and death in all its forms.
View Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s 2021 Virginia Bill tracker to view updates on all bills the organization has been monitoring during the 2021 legislative session.