Group against gun violence holds virtual vigil and advocacy day on MLK Day

Virginia Politics

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — On Monday, Virginia lawmakers joined the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and other leaders to talk about reducing gun violence — a “pandemic that will only be cured by persistence and love.”

On a day when we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a victim of gun violence himself, Virginia leaders and gun legislation advocates gathered virtually to discuss ways to prevent it.

“As I reflect back over the events over the last 12 months, I am reminded that it’s as important as ever to make sure we follow his example of using our voices to confront injustice whenever we see it and to work to right those wrongs,” said Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.

Herring also talked about some of the gun violence prevention measures that have been enacted over the last few years, which include a one handgun purchase per month law, expansion of background checks, and more.

More than 1,000 people died because of gun violence last year in the commonwealth, according to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

“These are humans, these are people these are fellow [men] in the commonwealth of Virginia,” said Lori Haas, with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

Advocates for stricter gun control measures say they have a “moral duty and obligation” to address the “pandemic of gun violence” in the commonwealth.

Governor Ralph Northam (D-Va.) said, “There’s no need for anyone to have an assault weapon on the streets of Virginia or in this country. There’s no need to have open carry of assault weapons.”

Gun control advocates also say it takes persistence.

“When it comes to this war on gun violence, it comes to persistence.” said Pastor Dr. Emanuel C. Harris, the president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Richmond and Vicinity. “We have to persistently go after all the root causes of gun violence. It’s not one thing, it’s everything. It’s poverty, it’s education, it’s common-sense gun legislation, it’s policy, it’s community efforts, it’s all of us coming together — and most of all, it’s love in our hearts.”

A recording of both the vigil and a legislative update on gun violence prevention bills in the General Assembly session are available online.

In a news release, the

In a news release Monday, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence also listed the bills it’s tracking, which include those that would:

  • prohibit guns at polling places, on the capitol grounds and in state buildings in order to protect our right to vote, legislate and assemble without the threat of armed intimidation;
  • prohibit firearm possession by those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors;
  • ban the possession of ghost guns, or untraceable firearms; 
  • encourage more  police accountability by allowing citizens to bring civil action for certain police behaviors; 
  • repeal mandatory minimum sentences;
  • provide a path to automatic restoration of civil rights for returning citizens; and
  • through a clean slate bill, allow persons to apply for jobs, housing, etc. without fear that a prior conviction will negatively impact their opportunities.

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