Virginia Tech Mother Explains How Dick Saslaw Killed Bill To Close "Gunshow Loophole"

Friday, February 12, 2010

The following is from Lori Haas, a Virginia Tech mom whose my daughter was shot and survived the massacre. Since then, she has worked (as a volunteer) for several gun violence prevention organizations - Virginia Center for Public Safety, The Brady Campaign, Protest Easy Guns, The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence - lobbying at the Virginia General Assembly on this issue. Here's Haas' take on what happened in the State Senate with Louise Lucas' legislation to close the "gunshow loophole". I think it's interesting in and of itself, but also as a case study in how things work in Dick Saslaw's state Senate (and in Richmond more broadly). Enjoy (or, more likely, not).
While being realistic about the session this year and the onslaught of gun bills - we've been watching over four dozen mostly bad bills - I was very encouraged about SB595, Senator Louise Lucas' bill to close the gunshow loophole. We had a 10-5 vote to get it out of Senate Courts of Justice and a 20-20 vote count on the Senate floor (based on last year's number).

However, Dick Saslaw was convinced a vote on the Senate floor would expose some of his vulnerable Senate seats to the wrath of the NRA and he convinced the patron to pull the bill. And votes on all the other gun bills coming through doesn't expose them? The NRA has already set their sights on their targets - we had a floor vote on this issue last year!!
In a followup email, Haas added:
I just want to be clear that public safety shouldn't be an issue Dems run from. It should be one of their strongest platforms, because keeping the public safe is key to good governance. We are not free if we are constantly looking over our shoulder in fear of a loose cannon with a gun. When Dems learn to take on this issue and take pride in their good work, they will win. If they keep hiding and kowtowing, they will lose.
That advise could apply to Democrats on many, many issues, from health care to the environment and many others. Unfortunately, they don't appear to be listening.