AP Photo/Steve Helber
Virginia Democrats on Thursday evening killed a bill that would have done more to reduce violent crime in the state’s hardest hit cities than any of Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposals, making it clear that their agenda isn’t about saving lives, but restricting rights.
HB1617, authored by Republican Del. Jason Miyares, a former prosecutor, would have provided grant money to cities in order to implement two programs; Project Ceasefire and Project Exile.
The two programs work in conjunction with each other, both targeting the cities most violent and prolific offenders. Those individuals are given a choice. They can stop shooting, in which case they can work with the Ceasefire folks to help put their life on the right path, whether it’s through a GED program, job training, an apprenticeship, and the like. Or, if they keep shooting, they’ll be dealing with the men and women in Project Exile, and their cases are going to be referred to federal court where they’ll be facing long prison sentences without the possibility of early release.
“You’re going to stop shooting. We’ll help you if you let us, but we’ll make you if we have to.” That’s the message and the strategy behind these programs and it works, as has been detailed by researchers like David Kennedy, who has helped implement the strategy in many cities over the past twenty years. It works because it targets the people who are actually committing violent crimes. In many cases, these most likely to offend are also the most likely to be victimized. They’re responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime and tragedy in the communities they live and prey upon. But many of them are not beyond redemption, and lives have not only been saved but changed by these efforts.
This is the bill that Democrats killed, while passing bills to ration handgun purchases, limit firearms training, establish red flag laws, and even allow localities to pass their own gun control laws. They want cities across the state to be able to put useless, ineffective, and unconstitutional laws on the books, while preventing them from putting proven and effective programs in place that don’t require any new legislation beyond establishing a funding mechanism.
This is shameful. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that I believe this bill, had it been enacted into law, would have saved more lives than all of Gov. Northam’s gun bills put together, and Democrats killed it in committee. This is not common sense. In fact, it makes no sense, given the fact that the Project Ceasefire model has support from a lot of liberal politicians.
No, I believe the reason Democrats killed this bill are simply because it was authored by a Republican and it didn’t do anything to restrict the rights of legal gun owners. Those two things made it unsupportable for the majority of the General Laws committee, and Virginians in high-crime neighborhoods are going to pay the price for the Democrats’ partisanship.