By Andy Parker
Parker, of Henry County, is the father of the late WDBJ-TV journalist Alison Parker.
I felt the need to respond to the recent commentary of House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (“A proven way to reduce gun violence,” July 28.) The programs he touts — Project Ceasefire and Project Exit — are actually pretty good ideas that need to be implemented, but to say they are the solution to the scourge of gun violence in our state is utterly ridiculous.
The overwhelming majority of Virginians and Americans believe in universal background checks, limiting high capacity magazines, banning assault style rifles — the weapon of choice for mass shooters, and Extreme Risk Protective Orders. This last piece of proposed legislation has given law enforcement in 17 states the tools to intervene and prevent untold murders and suicides, and these laws that were enacted in bipartisan fashion by other states have been proven to reduce gun violence. Had it been law in Virginia 4 years ago, it’s quite possible my daughter Alison and her cameraman Adam Ward would still be doing the news.
Last year, Gilbert was so agitated by a bill to approve a specialty license plate that simply said “Stop Gun Violence” that he led an effort to kill it. He was quoted as saying “The agenda toward taking firearms away from law-abiding people is ultimately insatiable.” In his distorted mind, a specialty tag with a simple message was tantamount to the repeal of the Second Amendment. Thankfully, even the majority of his extremist colleagues couldn’t buy into that outrageous logic and the plate was overwhelmingly approved by the General Assembly.
Given Gilbert and his Republican cohorts’ NRA and Trump-fueled ideology it’s no surprise they cynically forced an adjournment of the special session to address the gun issue without the courage to cast a single vote. As I predicted in subsequent interviews, their act of cowardice will come back to bite them in November. And while Gilbert’s district will send him back to the House of Delegate thanks to a poorly-educated majority that continues to buy into the con, he’ll find himself in the minority in January. Good laws will be passed that will save the lives of his constituents in spite of themselves.
I’m sure the Democrats, when they are deservedly in control, will give Todd a nice pat on the back for his noble suggestions.