Listen up, Harrisonburg area gun owners, especially if you’re a Republican. Each of us has powerful leverage to affect legislation in Virginia right now. It only takes a few keyboard clicks and quick voicemails.

Oh, and it will also require your conviction that you’re a thinking voter, not a cartoon drawn by addled extremists in Washington and in our state Legislature who ignore their own constituents.

The tragic, as we’ve learned again this week, is now commonplace. And when mass shootings occur in Virginia or elsewhere we gun owners are made to seem as if we’re absolutely opposed to firearm safety measures. Those are falsehoods.

Not only most Virginians, but also most National Rifle Association members and Republicans agree by wide majorities, just as you do, that we need sane gun laws.

Several surveys have found that most NRA members — some have found as many as 7 in 10 — support universal background checks for anyone trying to buy a gun. Don’t trust polls? Good. How about one conducted by the Republican pollster Frank Luntz?

After the Sandy Hook school massacre, a Luntz survey of hundreds of NRA members found that 87% agree that guns should be kept out of the hands of criminals. NRA members also support, by margins of 63 to 79%, background checks for every gun purchase, requiring owners to report to police when guns are lost or stolen and minimum standards for “concealed carry” permits. A Christopher Newport University policy poll recently found that Virginians aren’t much different: “Overall support for specific gun control policies show general bipartisan agreement,” the report summarizes.

After the slaughter of 12 city employees in Virginia Beach — one of the latest chapters in our growing book of tragedies — a special legislative session was adjourned without action after two hours. The 2019 regular session saw dozens of reasonable gun control bills stifled in committees.

Is that really the way you want this conversation to go? Firearms killed more than a thousand Virginians in 2018 — about three a day, including children. During the past 10 years, gun violence has killed more than 600,000 American civilians — more than all combat fatalities in World War II.

Meanwhile, people who pretend to speak for gun owners call folks who worry about mass shootings “radical and opportunistic puppets” and “craven gun grabbing zealots.” Colorful, but are they describing you? Didn’t think so. Make sure your legislators know that you’re ready for gun safety legislation immediately — and you expect them to fight for it.

You can find and get in touch with them instantly online. It’s always better to make contact or visit now, before the frantically busy General Assembly session begins in January.

You can also write to the Virginia Crime Commission here, or at 1111 East Broad St., Ste. B036, Richmond, Virginia 23219. It’s collecting citizen opinions about reasonable gun safety laws to pass along to the legislature.

Richard Keene, a 51-year-old gun owner from Chesterfield, told a reporter that he felt the governor’s special gun control session turned out to be “a lot of hype for nothing.”

He said, “I don’t feel like the common, normal person, the normal American, is represented anymore...there is some common ground for the common good that all of us could work toward.” The take-home word for you and me: “work.” Do it now.

Stephen Nash is a visiting senior research scholar at the University of Richmond, and the author of the book Virginia Climate Fever, published by the University of Virginia Press.

(8) comments


You liberals and your facts... so funny. I'm a conservative and nobody ever polled me about being willing to give up my gun rights. Frank Lutz is a RINO at best but nice try. These shooters broke the law by shooting people, why wouldn't they break the law by obtaining guns illegally? Our govt can't keep drugs out, can't keep illegal invaders out and can't keep sex traffickers out, what make anyone think they can keep guns out? Trading my freedoms for a little false security is no bargain. I will keep my guns!


Apparently, based on his condescending attitude directed at gun owners – or at least American gun owners – Mr. Nash is having difficulties in hiding his hatred of Americans who own guns and are not disposed to having more “sane gun laws” passed. Unfortunate, but transparent.


I need a semi-automatic for the zombie apocalypse.


Just buy a better bike and peddle faster.

You'll be fine.

I just had to deal with Presta valves.

Didn't know there was such a thing.


Yup, they hold high pressure better than schraeder valves, or so they say. I'm mounting a semi-auto on my handlebars.


600,000 guns deaths in 10 years is a lie....that would be 60,00 a year and it has been no where near that! The thing you fail to mention is how many were suicide, how many were accidental, how many were justified homicide, how many were gang related, how many were mass murders with rifles....which is the lowest cause of firearm deaths in this country! Just another truth twisting liberal nut case who not only doesn't understand the second amendment he also doesn't understand law abiding gun owners!


In order to have effective universal background checks you would have to register all firearms in the country.

And that won't be happening.

R B Tate

Thanks for the lecture professor. Tell us more about your climate book.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.