Imagine a government created a budget where your pet project was set to get X amount of money, but after raising concerns, they doubled it. That would sound pretty good, right?
Well, it might. However, anti-Second Amendment activists in Virginia are less than pleased in just such a case.
The pandemic relief spending plan crafted by Democratic leaders includes $5 million for community-based gun violence prevention initiatives, an amount that falls far short of the $37 million advocacy groups had suggested.
The original proposal was only $2.5 million. Legislators decided to double that in budget negotiations late last week, an apparent nod to the disappointment some gun-control proponents were feeling after seeing the funding amounts Democratic leaders had worked out in advance of this month’s special session.
“It’s not enough. I recognize that,” said Lori Haas, Virginia director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, one of several dozen advocates who signed on to a letter requesting $37 million. “But there is some process and research and information-gathering needed to make sure these dollars are spent to have the most impact.”
The letter from the group of gun-control advocates, health providers and community activists told policymakers funding was “urgently needed to address the severe increase in homicides and shootings associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.” Several Virginia cities have seen substantial spikes in violence, and the state’s overall homicide rate hit a two-decade high in 2020.
The letter from the Virginia Community Violence Coalition suggested substantial new money for violence intervention programs focused on deterring the small subset of people most at risk of being shot or shooting someone else. The state Department of Criminal Justice Services had also requested significant new anti-violence funding, suggesting $20 million in the immediate budget year and $17.5 million annually for the next three years.
In other words, they didn’t get everything they want.
In fairness, they barely got a fraction of what they wanted, so I get being upset. If you think you need $37 million, $5 million just isn’t going to cut it. Especially for an entire state the size of Virginia.
That said, tough. These groups could raise this money themselves and advance their agenda through private donations, but they won’t. There’s nothing stopping them from funding whatever research or violence prevention programs they want, but again, they won’t.
They want the state’s taxpayers to have to foot the bill, regardless of how they may feel about a given measure. They want Virginians on the hook so they don’t have to expend their own resources trying to actually do something.
Frankly, these groups need to get over it and get used to disappointment. Especially in Virginia.
Governor Ralph Northam and his fellow Democrats got what they wanted from people like this. They got elected and control the state. They don’t need these groups anymore. After all, who are they going to vote for instead? Republicans? Hardly, and they know it.
So, this is what they’ll get and they’ll have to learn to like it.
Either that or step up and actually try to do something on their own without expecting the government to fund it. Then again, maybe they realize there’s absolutely no way they can raise that kind of money because there’s really not all that much support for their ideas?