There’s a new effort to reduce gun violence in the commonwealth. House Democrats just launched the “Safe Virginia Initiative” task force.
They said not enough was done during the last General Assembly session when it comes to guns. That’s why they are spending the next several months trying to come up with solutions to present during the next session.
Del. Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond City) says it’s a topic Virginians are eager to discuss.
“There are so many people who are begging, who are asking for us to do something about this critical issue and this crisis that this country is facing,” she said.
McQuinn will serve as the Richmond regional chair for the task force.
Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) and Kathleen Murphy (D-Fairfax) will co-chair the task force as a whole.
Organizers hope the task force will be bipartisan.
Members will work with the public to come up with policy initiatives to reduce gun violence in schools, at work, at home and in places of worship.
“We have an opportunity to be proactive as well as reactive to what has been going on across the country,” said McQuinn. “I think that citizens across the commonwealth are ready to be engaged, they’re ready to have this discussion and I think the time is so appropriate as we look at the dynamics of activism that’s happening across the country.”
She said the task force will take a broader approach to safety than another effort that was announced last month.
That’s when House Speaker Kirk Cox, a Republican, formed the first Select Committee in the House in more than 150 years. It was prompted by the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that claimed 17 lives.
“I think people are just extremely concerned about the safety of their students in school,” Cox said at the time.
That committee, which is made up of Republicans and Democrats, takes a more targeted approach to safety. It focuses on just schools and will not include a gun debate.
Instead, committee members will delve into topics like emergency preparedness, behavioral health and improving security.
McQuinn said she compliments the select committee on what they are doing to try and improve safety in Virginia schools, but said the task force will give people a chance to add gun reform into the conversation.
“While we commend the formation of Speaker Cox’s select committee, we believe that it isn’t possible to separate school safety from gun safety,” Murphy said in a statement.
The group plans to organize events between May and October all across the commonwealth and will seek input from the public.