The Board of Supervisors voted along party lines Tuesday night to table a resolution recognizing June 2 as National Gun Violence Awareness Day, following a long public hearing and very brief discussion among supervisors.
The draft resolution became a political lightning rod after a press release Monday by the Loudoun County Republican Committee attacking the resolution and the organization that would accept it, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Over the weekend before the LCRC press release, county Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) attempted to depoliticize the resolution by removing MDA from resolution, but both supporters and opponents lined up to speak at tonight’s Board of Supervisors meeting nonetheless.
“By supporting these types of resolutions, the board turns groups of citizens that could have common goals, such as the Virginia Citizens Defense League, it turns these groups that could have common goals into groups that work against each other,” Chris Rankin said.
“Firearms do not commit crimes,” said Jeff Traver. “They don’t commit violence. Firearms are instead a reality of our society.”
Other speakers, including a delegation of orange-clad mothers from the Loudoun chapter of MDA, said the resolution wasn’t an attack on gun owners, but rather a recognition of the lives lost to gun violence.
“Two thirds of our homicide corpses and half of our suicide corpses have gunshot wounds,” said Charles McKeon. “Every year, dozens of our police officers die from gunshot wounds, and every year hundreds more of our police officers become killers.”
“It is the first step so that maybe, just maybe, my grandbabies won’t have to do active shooter drills in school,” said Koren Barwis. “… It is the first step that starts a conversation that goes beyond finger pointing, beyond fear, and beyond name calling.
Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling) moved to approve the resolution. He said the resolution is about awareness and education, not taking away guns.
He also said the topic is near and dear to his heart—two of his older brothers have been shot, and his eldest brother was shot and killed while on the phone with a relative.
“He was overheard on the phone saying ‘please don’t kill me, my son is right there,’” Saines said. “But the person ended up shooting him anyway, with his son in front of him, my nephew.”
Supervisor Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian) and Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) cut short any further discussion on the dais with a motion to table the resolution indefinitely—a motion on which there is no discussion, only an immediate vote. Volpe said the resolution had become “highly politicized.” Supervisors Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge), Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin), and Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) joined Volpe and Buona in tabling the motion. Saines, Randall, and Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) voted against tabling.