Saturday, April 20, 2024

May 31 was tragic in Virginia Beach. June is Gun Violence Awareness Month. Here’s what the AG has to say

(Southside Daily/Melanie Occhiuzzo)
(Southside Daily/Melanie Occhiuzzo)

State Attorney General Mark Herring met with other attorneys general from other states and survivors of gun violence ahead of “Wear Orange Weekend” to discuss the need for legislative change on Wednesday.

Friday is National Gun Violence Awareness Day when participants are encouraged to wear orange in solidarity — it’s just one week after a mass shooting left 12 people dead and four more wounded in Virginia Beach’s Municipal Center.

RELATED STORY: They wore orange to raise awareness on gun violence

Among the dead were four other engineers who worked to maintain streets and protect wetlands and three right-of-way agents who reviewed property lines. Others included an account clerk, a technician, an administrative assistant and a special projects coordinator. In all, they had served the city of Virginia Beach for more than 150 years.

Virginia Beach Police Chief, Jim Cervera identified the shooter, who died in a gunbattle with police, as a longtime city employee who worked as an engineer in Building 2 of the Municipal Complex. The shooter sent an emailed resignation letter to his boss just hours before the shooting.

“We in Virginia are absolutely heartbroken that Virginia Beach is the latest community in America to be touched by the pain and inexplicable violence of mass shooting,” Herring said Wednesday.

The attorney general noted the issue is unique to the U.S., “other countries have disgruntled employees, troubled students, and abusive spouses, but ours is the only country that gives them easy access to guns.”

Herring said Virginia should take this opportunity for action as nothing has changed since the mass shooting at Virginia Tech 12 years ago.

“Politicians in Virginia and Washington said all the right things, ‘never forget,’ ‘we’ll remember,’ ‘we have to do something’ and yet nothing has changed.”

On Tuesday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced a special session for lawmakers to consider gun-control legislation.

Northam said the massacre in Virginia Beach demands that lawmakers put saving lives before party doctrine.

Related Story: Virginia Beach mass shooting aftermath: Northam announces special session on gun control

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro opened the discussion with meeting goals to “forge a better understanding of the challenges we face and to create real partnerships to reduce gun violence in our communities.”

“We can balance the rights of law-abiding with the rights of people to be safe in their communities,” Shapiro said.

Tom Mauser lost his son, Daniel, in the mass shooting at Columbine in 1999 — he said the key to change is talking across political lines.

“We need to have a conversation because that’s what it’s all about. Telling our stories and having conversations,” he said.


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