After two people were shot and killed and five others injured at a shooting outside a high school graduation in Richmond, Virginia on Tuesday night, gun control activists were quick to pin the blame on the gun (and the “gun lobby”), rather than the trigger puller.
Because of the politics of inaction from gun lobby backed Republicans, kids face the threat of gun violence in their schools, communities, and homes. https://t.co/IBXoVLkzx6
— Peter Ambler (@PeterMAmbler) June 7, 2023
Ambler’s the executive director of Giffords, so it stands to reason that he’s going to pin the blame on this shooting on Republican intransigence and guns themselves rather than the failed leadership of Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, the Richmond City Council, or the 19-year-old who authorities say was targeting the 18-year-old who was killed along with his father.
Shawn Jackson, 18, and his father, Lorenzo Smith, 36, were both killed Tuesday in the shooting, which sent hundreds fleeing in panic outside the state capital’s city-owned Altria Theater after the graduation ceremony for Huguenot High School. Five other people were wounded in the shooting.
Richmond Interim Police Chief Rick Edwards said the shooting suspect, Amari Pollard, 19, knew Jackson and the two had been embroiled in a dispute for more than a year. Edwards said the nature of the dispute is still being investigated.
“This was targeted at one individual … that’s what we know at this time,” Edwards said during a news conference Wednesday.
Pollard was arraigned Wednesday morning on two counts of second-degree murder, said Colette McEachin, Richmond’s top prosecutor. Pollard said he intends to hire an attorney, so the court continued the case until a hearing later this month, McEachin wrote in an email. Pollard was ordered held without bond. Court records did not immediately list an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
While Ambler points the finger at the supposed lack of gun control laws in Virginia (while ignoring the half-dozen anti-gun measures put in place by Virginia Democrats back in 2020), Second Amendment attorney Kostas Moros utterly obliterated his argument with a single tweet not long after the news of the shooting broke on social media.
Richmond, Virginia and Boise, Idaho have almost identical populations. The gun laws in Idaho are less strict than Virginia. So by the Giffords worldview, Boise should be the same as or worse than Richmond when it comes to murder.
In 2021, Boise had 2 muders.
— Kostas Moros (@MorosKostas) June 7, 2023
If its not the gun laws, then what is responsible for the unacceptable levels of violence in Virginia’s capitol city?
I’ve written about Richmond’s dysfunction here at Bearing Arms repeatedly, including Mayor Levar Stoney’s idiotic move to waste money on a gun “buyback” program rather than devote those funds to anti-violence programs with a proven track record of success. Stoney has even said he doesn’t want a “law enforcement approach” to fighting violent crime, refusing calls from black pastors in the city to adopt an Operation Ceasefire program because it involves both violence intervention and prosecution for repeat, prolific offenders.
“We appreciate the group’s work and interest, but disagree with their advocacy for a law-enforcement based approach to gun violence prevention,” wrote the mayor’s press secretary, Jim Nolan. “We are focused on evidence-based programs that are more community-focused, and reflect a human services and public health approach, such as the $500,000 grant we recently received from the state department of criminal justice services.”
Stoney chose to spend that $500,000 on things like compensated confiscation events, even as violent crime in the city has gotten worse. Under his “leadership” the shortfall in the Richmond police department has grown to more than 150 officers, and residents are complaining that when police are desperately needed they’re slow to arrive. As WRIC-TV reported in April:
A Richmond man is fed up with the city’s cop shortage after he says it took police more than an hour to respond to his 911 call and he ended up with a bullet through his home.
“I don’t know if my scenario was a failure or if this is what we have come to expect…but man it was not a good situation,” Christopher May said during a public safety meeting last week. “I hear more gunshots and see less police in my neighborhood than anywhere else in the city.”
May lives in the Oak Grove area, and said he called police last weekend for a rowdy party in his neighborhood. He said he reported the situation at 1:42 a.m., but when he checked an hour later, he did not see the report on the active call list.
Shortly after that, he heard between 10 to 15 gunshots. One of those bullets pierced his walls and television.
“I have footage of people dancing on top of vehicles and it wasn’t until someone decided to shoot 15 bullets in the street, hitting multiples homes and vehicles, that the Sergeant had to come out,” May said. “That makes no sense from a best practices standard.”
May said the responding officer blamed the delayed response on a critical staffing shortage within the department.
“The Sergeant says they all go to Shockoe Bottom to prepare for the bars to get out that way… and I’m not arguing that one,” May said. “But it makes no sense where a home that had someone shot (…) and a street that has problems, it takes an hour to get there. This could’ve been prevented. Heaven forbid if anyone was shot or injured, how long would it have taken anyone to respond?”
According to Ambler and other anti-gun activists, none of this is helping drive violent crime in Richmond, and the only “solution” that will make a difference is imposing new infringements on the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.
The reality is that Richmond’s a fairly dysfunctional city when it comes to public safety, thanks in large part to the far-left ideology of its mayor and a majority of the city council. Stoney and former Richmond police chief Gerald Smith (the revolving door of police chiefs in the city is another major issue) even made up a mass shooting threat last July, and the mayor has stonewalled attempts by the local press to get documents relating to a press conference where Stoney used the non-existent threat to call for more gun control.
Ultimately its the criminals themselves who are responsible for their crimes, but the actions of Levar Stoney and the city council has gone a long way towards creating a culture where these acts of violence are accepted and explained away while legal gun owners and the Second Amendment are held up as scapegoats. Tuesday’s shooting wasn’t because of a lack of gun control, but was fueled by the city’s lack of common sense among its leaders.