The Million Mom March (MMM) Chapters of Virginia united with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence join the nation in grieving for the families of the victims of the worst mass shooting in American history.
“This tragedy at Virginia Tech affects us all,” says Terry Hartnett, president of the Million Mom March of Northern Virginia. “It is such a heartbreaking commentary on American values. Money from special interest groups opposed to sensible gun-safety legislation seems to motivate our legislators more than the opportunity to make our universities, our local schools and streets safer for our children. We need some serious soul- searching by our elected officials,” she says.
The four Virginia chapters of the Million Mom March have been advocating for tougher gun-safety legislation in Virginia since the national group was formed in 2000. During the past legislative session, the Million Mom March chapters joined other gun safety groups in urging the Legislature to close the loophole in state law that effectively allows anyone to buy a gun from an unlicensed dealer at a Virginia gun show without having to go through a criminal background check. Like many other sensible gun safety bills introduced in the past seven years, the measure did not pass.
“It is far too easy for people to get their hands on dangerous weapons in this state,” says June Hazelhurst, president of the Richmond Chapter of the Million Mom March. “And the stakes are so much higher now that the federal Assault Weapons Ban has expired and criminals can get their hands on virtually any type of gun.”
Law enforcement officials do not know if the weapon used in today’s shooting was an assault weapon that would have been banned under this federal law. “One thing is certain — the VA Tech shooter had to have extraordinary fire power to do what he did,” says Jennifer Bergin, president of the Charlottesville MMM Chapter.
“As mothers, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims,” says Lorraine Price, president of the Hampton Roads MMM Chapter. Recalling the horror of Columbine High School that will be marked later this week, Price added, “It is totally unconscionable that nothing has been done in seven years to prevent another tragedy like this.”