As a resident of Virginia, I don’t look to my local city council or sheriff to decide how gun regulations can coexist with gun ownership. I care about what they are doing to protect me, my family, and my neighbors. Politicized sheriffs trying to be judges are missing the critical reason we are pushing for these laws: to save lives.
Take extreme risk protection order laws, which enjoy the broad support of 89% of Americans, including Republican local, state, and federal legislators around the country. Currently law in 17 states and the District of Columbia, extreme risk laws have been used to temporarily remove guns from individuals in crisis, including teens planning school shootings, adults threatening workplace violence, and individuals at elevated risk of attempting suicide. There’s enormous evidence that these laws fulfill a critical need to stop mass shootings before they happen and have saved many lives from suicide.
As Chipman should know, good reasons don’t equate to good results. I have no doubt that many of the people pushing Ralph Northam’s unconstitutional gun control agenda believe they’re doing it for all the right reasons, but good intentions don’t matter much if the results are disastrous for our constitutional rights and public safety.
Chipman, for instance, claims that there’s “enormous evidence” that red flag laws prevent mass shootings and prevent suicides. The only problem is he doesn’t actually cite any evidence at all. What the evidence actually shows is that, even in states where red flag laws have been on the books for years, suicides are still increasing, though gun related suicides have slightly declined.
Sheriffs too want to save lives, and many of the sheriffs in Virginia say that red flag legislation isn’t the answer. Instead, they’re asking that the state do something to fix the broken mental health system in the state, which simply isn’t a priority for Chipman and gun control groups.
I am a proud and responsible gun owner, as are millions of Virginians. I am also permitted to carry a concealed handgun. I am not afraid of lawmakers in Richmond passing laws to make it harder for criminals to get guns. In fact, I’m part of the majority who demand it. But I am angered to see sheriffs and community leaders using their positions to stoke fear and spread lies.
What lies? Chipman doesn’t say, though he tells a few of his own in his op/ed. Chipman claims that no law-abiding gun owner has anything to fear from any of these bills, when legislation like HB 961 would turn most of the state’s gun owners into felons simply for keeping their 20-round magazine or legally purchased suppressors.
In fact, it’s the criminals in Virginia who have nothing to fear from these gun control laws. They’re already illegally obtaining and using firearms, so what does another gun control law mean to them, especially if the legislation is designed to restrict the rights of legal gun owners.
Even worse, Chipman is ignoring a recent report released by the gun control group he works for that says most violence is committed by about 1% of the population. Rather than focus their efforts on the handful of individuals driving violent crime, Chipman is encouraging lawmakers to go after the 99% of gun owners who aren’t and will never be a problem. The sheriffs that Chipman attacks as “renegades” who are neglecting their duty to residents are in actuality standing up for them in the face of an onslaught of legislation that aims to restrict their rights and could indeed turn many of them into criminals if they don’t comply.