‘Votes and laws, not thoughts, prayers’ aim to find answers

By now, most have forgot what happened Friday.
What happened and will happen again — anytime and anywhere — was a gun massacre that put hundreds at risk.
Once upon a time in America you needed to be a family member or friend of the dead or those who survived gun violence to think it could happen to you.
Not anymore. Practically everyone now tells themselves they need to be aware of any loud popping sounds or screaming that signal something is real wrong wherever they may be.
That applies to any workplace, any church, any school, any theater, any nightclub, any concert, any mall, anywhere.
Gun violence isn’t just all slaughters and massacres, either. It goes on in ones and twos in homes, on sidewalks, in parks and in small businesses daily.
Last weekend, for example, 52 people were shot, eight fatally, in Chicago. No, Morgantown, or West Virginia is not in that league, but gun violence is hardly uncommon on High Street or in the Mountain State.
Twelve were murdered within minutes in one of Virginia Beach, Va.’s, municipal buildings — 150 yards away from that community’s police department.
The gunman died from his wounds in a shootout with police, who also responded within minutes.
What more could be done to ensure these worker’ safety from gun violence than a police facility next door?
We would argue there is no silver bullet — or no guarantee — on an issue this complex or this prevalent.
However, Virginia’s governor’s call for a special session Tuesday on gun-control legislation may have provided a way forward. His call insisted on “votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers,” in contrast to the misguided attempt at absolution that nothing could have helped protect the victims of this latest mass shooting. Or the other lame excuses, including the best we can do is better mental health care.
What of bans on large-capacity magazines, assault weapons, including sound suppressors; restricting guns in public buildings; mandatory universal background checks; limits of one handgun purchase a month; requiring people report lost or stolen firearms and allowing police to seize guns of those who are a threat to themselves of others.
Those are some laws on Virginia’s upcoming legislative agenda. As for the votes, Virginia’s governor wants every lawmaker on record for or against these proposals, rather than avoiding votes by quietly killing bills in subcommittees.
This call to put most of this legislation to a vote by Virginia’s entire General Assembly comes only six months after the same proposals died in such committees.
Admittedly, tougher gun laws alone are not going to make this violence go away.
But remember, in one routine massacre after another, thoughts and prayers were simply never enough.