Kaine and Warner Use Virginia Tech Shooting Anniversary to Push New Gun Control Bill

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both Virginia Democrats, are using the anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting to tout their new gun control package, billed as the "Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence Act of 2024". 


“I’m proud of the steps the Commonwealth has taken in recent years to help keep Virginians safe, which is why I’m introducing this bill to build on our progress by implementing those commonsense measures on the national level. We must do more to ensure everyone can go to school, work, their place of worship, a grocery store, or concert without the terror of gun violence,” Kaine said in a press release. 

This is one of the laziest bits of anti-gun political theater that I've seen, and I'm doubly ashamed that it's coming from my home state senators. Kaine and Warner basically cribbed every bit of gun control legislation adopted by Democrats when they had complete control of state government in 2020 (along with one bill signed into law by Gov. Glenn Youngkin this year) and have tweaked them to apply federally: a "lost or stolen" reporting requirement, a federal "red flag" law, "one gun a month" rationing, and a gun storage mandate, among others. 

“I just feel like I have more to do, and it makes me happy that Virginia has taken steps. I was able to get some reforms done when I was governor, in the aftermath of the shooting at Virginia Tech, but some of the big reforms I wanted to do like background checks, I was not able to get enough done in my own view,” Kaine said. 

The bill pays tribute to the 32 lives lost in the shooting, who would likely be alive today if effective legislation had been in place, according to Kaine.


Well, according to me Kaine is full of it. The perpetrator of the Virginia Tech shootings waited one month between purchasing his guns, so the "one gun a month" law wouldn't have prevented the killings. He legally purchased both firearms, so the "lost or stolen" reporting requirement wouldn't have come into play either (not that it's effective to begin with). He wasn't a minor, so the gun storage mandate included in the Democrats' new bill wouldn't have applied in his case. 

What about a "red flag" law? The killer was known to have mental health issues dating back to at least middle school, and had been declared mentally ill in 2005 by a special justice in Virginia who ordered him to receive outpatient mental health treatment. I suppose if a "red flag" law had been in place he might have been the subject of an Extreme Risk Protection Order, but he should have been committed in 2005, which would have allowed him to receive the inpatient treatment he needed and also prevented him from being able to purchase a firearm. There's no mental health component at all to Virginia's "red flag" law, either on the front or back end. Once a person's guns have been removed from their possession, they're apparently no longer dangerous, at least in the eyes of the state. 


The bill isn't going to get anywhere close to the 60 votes that it needs to clear cloture in the Senate, but Tim Kaine is running for re-election this year and I guess he needs to tout his anti-gun bona fides on the campaign trail. Republicans won't select their challenger until June, but whoever ends up with the nomination needs to hammer the Democrat over this gross exploitation of the Virginia Tech shootings to push a blatant attack on lawful gun owners. 


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