WASHINGTON -- When Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell decided today to sign legislation that repeals Virginia’s 19-year-old restriction on selling more than one handgun a month, he ignored the pleas of the Virginia Tech families affected by the worst shooting massacre in the history of the Commonwealth and the United States.
Colin Goddard, who survived being shot four times at Virginia Tech and now works as an advocate with the Brady Campaign, was outraged.
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"When the Virginia Tech families spoke to the governor on Saturday, he offered sympathy, not solutions. Sympathy alone will not save lives. The governor had a chance to be a leader for our state and for the nation in preventing future gun tragedies, but he chose a different path. As a result, innocent people will die. We will not let Virginians forget his shameful decision."
Lori Haas, whose daughter Emily survived being shot on April 16, 2007, and helped write and deliver a letter to Gov. McDonnell last week, asking him to meet with victims and survivors of the Virginia Tech massacre, saw the governor’s action as pandering. “Gov. McDonnell saw the wisdom of this law as a legislator. In our conversation with him on Saturday, he didn’t offer a single rational explanation for getting rid of it,” said Haas, a spokesperson for Virginians for Responsible Gun Laws. “When gun dealers can sell more guns without limits, they get the cold hard cash and we get more dead bodies. The governor needs to understand that.”
Peter Read, who lost his daughter, Mary Karen Read, during the Virginia Tech Massacre, told the governor during Saturday’s conference call, “I want to be able to say to anyone who asks that our governor is a profile in courage.” Today, in responding to the governor’s acceptance of the repeal, Read said, ”We didn’t get a profile in courage from our governor. We got a profile in capitulation.”
Dan Gross, new president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, was also dismayed at the governor’s unwillingness to put public safety first. “We at the Brady Campaign will continue to work with the families of Virginia Tech and citizens everywhere to let elected officials know that we’re not going away, we’re not backing down. If they make decisions that cost American lives, we will make sure the voices of their constituents are heard.”
The one-gun-a-month limit on handgun sales succeeded in dramatically reducing gun trafficking in Virginia, which 19 years ago was dubbed the “firearms supermarket” and “iron pipeline” for supplying crime guns to cities along Interstate I-95, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. It had the support of the 66 percent of Virginians, according to a poll released Feb. 19 by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The Virginia Tech families, who since the tragedy five years ago, have become advocates for saving more Americans from the devastation of gun violence, are determined to continue their fight for strong, sensible gun laws.
Family members who requested the meeting with the governor last week included: Lori and Channing Haas, Andrew and Colin Goddard, Peter D. Read, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF (Retired), Father of Mary Karen Read, VT '07, and Catherine M. Read, Kevin Sterne, Derek O’Dell, Joe, Mona, and Omar Samaha.