After 19 children and two teachers were murdered in a Texas school shooting, area Democrats are offering several measures to combat such mass slayings. 

Republican congressional hopefuls, meanwhile, had varied responses, though they all declined to provide any legislative proposals they would support to tackle violence involving guns.

On May 24, an 18-year-old man carrying an AR platform rifle entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border and started shooting, according to the Uvalde Leader-News.

The gunman legally purchased two AR platform rifles from a federally licensed gun store just days after his 18th birthday, according to the Texas Tribune.

The shooting was the third-deadliest at a school in U.S. history and the worst since 27 were killed with an AR-style rifle at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012.

The shooting came less than a week after a racist mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and reignited debates around firearms and gun violence in the U.S., but as of Tuesday has led to no measurable change in policy. 

The number of shootings on school grounds in the U.S. for 2022 varies depending on how they are defined. The Washington Post reported that as of Tuesday, 24 had occurred so far this year.

At least 17,972 people have died from firearm-related causes this year as of Tuesday, including 9,966 suicides, according to the nonpartisan Gun Violence Archive. The database reported at least 231 mass shootings this year, which are defined as shootings with at least four people injured or killed in a single incident.

Elected officials representing Prince William County posted messages of sorrow for the families affected by the shooting over the past week.

When asked for concrete measures to curb gun violence, Democrats offered a slew of potential changes to laws, including raising the age to purchase rifles from 18 to 21, banning assault-type weapons, universal background checks and closing loopholes in sales.

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, said “no child should live in fear of being murdered in their classroom.” She said legislators can take “common sense steps” to “reduce risk and keep our communities safe.”

Spanberger offered several pieces of legislation that have yet to pass Congress, although some have passed the House of Representatives. One would close loopholes for online and gun show purchases. Another would extend time periods for certain background checks.

“Outrageously, these efforts have stalled in the other chamber,” Spanberger said. “The U.S. Senate — at minimum — should be voting on these basic laws, which are broadly popular across the political spectrum. They could do that right now, if they wanted to show concern for the outcries from America’s parents, families, and entire communities. Those who are holding up this progress — notably all Republicans in the U.S. Senate — should be ashamed.”

Spanberger also advocated for reinstating the federal assault weapons ban, which was instituted in 1994 and expired in 2004. She has supported so-called “red flag laws,” which allow law enforcement or family members to petition a court to temporarily remove guns from an individual who might present a danger to themselves or others.

After the Uvalde shooting, Spanberger joined as a co-sponsor on a bill to raise the federal minimum age for assault-style weapons purchases to 21.

Of the six Republican candidates vying for the party nomination to oust Spanberger, five issued statements sending condolences to affected families. 

Of those, Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega and state Sen. Bryce Reeves did not return requests for comment on any measures they would take to curb gun violence.

Derrick Anderson said the shooting was carried out by “a very sick individual.” He did not offer any specific legislation to prevent future shootings, saying, “We must take a moment to grieve and learn all the facts, and then address steps moving forward.”

Spotsylvania Supervisor David Ross did not return a request for comment, but addressed the shooting in an email to supporters. His email calls for an end to any gun-free zones and expresses opposition to red-flag laws. Ross supports allowing guns on school grounds and advocates for expanding gun access. He stated, “Only a return to God and the moral principles that created our Nation will stop these acts.”

U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-10th, advocated for universal background checks, national red-flag laws and banning assault weapons. “Our kids should not have to live in fear of being massacred by yet another individual with easy access to guns,” she said.

The newspaper Loudoun Now reported that Hung Cao, the Republican nominee in the 10th District, said Cao’s response to the shooting was, “Gun control has never stopped anyone. Most people get bludgeoned to death and stabbed to death, [then] they get shot. I mean it’s a tragedy, it’s an absolute tragedy … But if it’s not guns it’s going to be with pipe bombs. Or knives or hammers. People get bludgeoned to death a lot ... It’s just evil. There’s a lot of evil in the world and we’re not going to stop it with gun control."

When a Cao spokesperson was asked to confirm the quote and what specific measures or legislation Cao would introduce or support to combat mass shootings in the U.S., InsideNoVa was provided with a quote attributed to Cao, saying, “April and I join all Americans in prayer for the students and families who are victims of a horrific act of violence today in Texas. Our hearts are broken for those parents who had a child taken from them today. May they find comfort in God’s love for them."

Prince William County’s state delegation also called for more gun-control measures. Many of the local Democrats supported legislation that has previously passed the General Assembly, such as background checks, restrictions to one handgun purchase per month, requiring people who are served with a protective order to surrender their guns for 24 hours and allowing local governments to restrict guns on their property.

State Dels. Elizabeth Guzman, D-31st, and Danica Roem, D-13th, and state Sen. Jeremy McPike, D-29th, supported an assault weapons ban.

"The No. 1 thing we need to do is ban assault weapons,” Guzman said. “These are weapons of war that no civilian should possess.”

Sen. Scott Surovell, D-36th, said the state needs to look “very seriously” at an assault weapons ban or a special licensing system for assault weapons. He said the state has made “decades of progress” in the past two years but could go further, such as limiting high-capacity magazines.

“There’s always more work that needs to be done,” he said.

Roem said gun-control legislation rarely receives Republican support, so it’s unlikely any new laws will come to Virginia.

“Few Republicans voted for any of these bills, so it's not likely the Republican leadership in the House of Delegates will allow more gun violence prevention bills directly related to firearm access, especially given that they shut down a special session in 2019 dedicated to gun violence prevention without allowing any votes on any legislation,” she said. 

McPike said the federal government needs to create more national standards for gun laws because “having this willy nilly and having more guns isn’t working.”

“I’m hopeful that folks see that what’s happening now is not working,” he said. “I thought after Sandy Hook and after the murder of those dozens of kids that things would change and they haven’t … At some point we’ve got to value our kids over what we’ve got now.”

 

Nolan Stout covers Prince William County. Reach him at nstout@insidenova.com or @TheNolanStout on Facebook and Twitter.

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(7) comments

Phil Bellom

We at least know who operates on emotion and who operates with common sense...

Janet Smith

Time for a significant increase in Law Enforcement to keep up with population growth. Then pay LE more than "cost of living" salary increases that don't keep up with inflation. Finally, tell the mall owners, convenience store owners, and fast food restaurant owners that local LE is NOT your "security force". Then maybe law abiding citizens won't be purchasing more firearms.

John Dutko

Since the US has more armed school guards and more guns per capita than any country in the world, it has more "Good Guys with a Gun" than any other country. In theory, this should make the US the safest place on EARTH to go to school, yet it has the highest amount of school shootings in the world by a large margin.

Additionally, we have seen that the police are not bound to help. In each case where there was an SRO assigned, they pulled a Brave Sir Robin and ran away.

Tim True

There have been at least 18 mass shootings SINCE the Uvalde massacre just 8 days ago. HOORAY FOR GUNS!!!! Conservatives are cheering and giving their thoughts and prayers to combat the slaughters. More to add to the list....

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/texas-school-shooting-fourth-grade-teacher-killed-uvalde-elementary-rcna30426

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/florida-school-shooting-these-are-17-victims-n848706

https://www.businessinsider.com/who-were-the-victims-of-the-sandy-hook-shooting-2017-12

https://people.com/crime/orlando-pulse-shooting-tributes-to-49-victims/

https://metro.co.uk/2019/04/20/remembering-the-13-victims-of-columbine-high-school-massacre-20-years-on-9228117/

https://people.com/crime/las-vegas-shooting-victims-names-photos-tributes/

https://heavy.com/news/san-jose-shooting-victims-names-photos/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/03/23/victims-boulder-shooting/

https://www.ktsm.com/news/el-paso-strong/list-victims-of-the-el-paso-walmart-shooting/

https://www.npr.org/2007/04/18/9618673/remembering-virginia-techs-shooting-victims

https://heavy.com/news/2019/06/virginia-beach-victim-victims-names-photos/

https://www.cnn.com/2017/11/06/us/texas-church-shooting-victims-list/index.html

https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/church-shooting-victims/7/

https://www.indystar.com/picture-gallery/news/local/2021/04/18/indianapolis-fedex-shooting-victims-photos/7276151002/

https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/atlanta/medical-examiner-releases-names-4-women-killed-asian-spas-atlanta-during-shooting-spree/BOF7DRJWUFAP5PBBG5RQ3UC5RQ/

https://heavy.com/news/2019/09/odessa-midland-shooting-victims-photos/

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/05/us/dayton-shooting-victims.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/victims-thousand-oaks-shooting-were-full-hope-heroism-n934191

https://abcnews.go.com/US/pittsburgh-synagogue-shooting-portraits-11-victims/story?id=58823835

https://time.com/5326090/capital-gazette-maryland-shooting-victims/

https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/18/us/texas-school-shooting-victims/index.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/texas-church-shooting/texas-church-shooting-who-were-victims-sutherland-springs-massacre-n818356

https://heavy.com/news/2017/09/plano-victims-shooting-photos-spencer-hight-massacre-texas-murder-names/

https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-san-bernardino-shooting-victims-htmlstory.html

https://www.cnn.com/2015/10/02/us/oregon-umpqua-community-college-shooting-victims/index.html

https://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/03/18/red-lake-victims

Bonita Cubow

Don't count on ANY Republicans to do ANYTHING useful to help curb a disaster like this happening again. They all have their "civil rights" guns stuck up their you-know-whats & refuse to pull them out & get rid of them.

George Lawton

Maybe you should look into migrating to Cuba, I think you’d like it better there.

John Dutko

You are 88x more likely to be killed by guns in the US than Cuba.

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