“WE needed to make it go away.”
Make gun violence “go away”?
Make mass shootings “go away”?
Make the pain and grief of mourning lost loved ones “go away”?
No, Del. Chris Head wasn’t talking about any of those important issues.
The Botetourt Republican, quoted in The Roanoke Times, was referring to his party’s plan for gun control. Republicans just wanted to make the issue “go away” until after the fall election.
That cynical, self-serving attitude exemplifies exactly what’s wrong with politics these days. Partisanship over principle. Political survival before the public good.
But that attitude is wrong, for both moral and pragmatic reasons.
From a practical standpoint: Americans are becoming increasingly frustrated with lack of progress on gun control. Sooner or later, gun-control measures will be passed.
And as columnist Megan McArdle and others cogently argue, if Second Amendment supporters don’t put their efforts behind some sort of workable gun-control legislation, they will cede the territory to their opponents—and ultimately will be overwhelmed.
This is a volatile national issue as well as a state concern.
We support the Constitution and its Bill of Rights. We would rather see the Second Amendment modified in a reasonable manner than see it repealed or gutted.
Virginia can help lead the way by modeling that more moderate approach.
Instead of continuing to resist inevitable changes, Virginia’s lawmakers can choose to help shape reasonable gun reforms now, while they still have the power to do so.
The Virginia State Crime Commission is meeting to debate that very issue. It is considering a wealth of bills—more than 70 of them—to revise the commonwealth’s gun laws.
But the timing of its work reflects that “make it go away” strategy that Mr. Head considers paramount.
After the mass shooting in Virginia Beach, Gov. Ralph Northam called a special session of the General Assembly to deal with gun reform. With Republicans holding a slim majority in both chambers, the Assembly met just 90 minutes before turning the proposed bills over to the Crime Commission—and ordering the commission to present its report on Nov. 18, after the legislative election.
Critics complained that the maneuver was just a means of playing politics with an issue of growing importance to the commonwealth.
Which it was. Mr. Head’s comment confirmed it. “We came up with a strategy that would neutralize the issues he [Northam] was trying to make campaign issues,” the delegate said. “We needed to make it go away.”
Of course, Republicans already had accused the governor of playing politics by calling for the special session in the first place, exploiting public emotions after the deaths of 12 people in Virginia Beach.
But if not now, when? When will there ever be a “neutral” time at which gun legislation can be discussed? The nation now lurches from one atrocity to another. There is no “neutral” time—only a rising resentment from voters over lack of action.
If they would humbly and honorably engage with the issue of gun reform, Republicans should be able to avert any extreme measures that would unbalance our constitutional rights.
But if they don’t act soon, they will lose the power to do so.
It’s no longer just a case of “Lead, or get out of the way.”
It’s “Lead, or get pushed out of the way.”
—(Charlottesville) Daily Progress