The Virginia chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statements in response to a shooting at the University of Virginia (UVA) in which three students were shot and killed, and two others shot and wounded. While the investigation is still unfolding, it is believed that the shooter is a student at UVA and former member of the football team. All three students killed were members of the UVA football team.Law enforcement has arrested the shooter.
“Right now, college students should be worried about midterms and traveling home for the holidays, not getting shot — but this terrible tragedy at the University of Virginia is yet another reminder that no campus is safe from America’s gun violence crisis,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Our hearts go out to the victims and survivors of this terrible tragedy, and we will honor their loss by redoubling our efforts to pass common-sense gun laws.”
“Three people are dead, two others are wounded and an entire campus community is forever traumatized by this horrific shooting,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “We don’t have to accept this sad reality that nowhere is safe from gun violence. We must continue to demand action from our elected leaders so we can prevent senseless violence and help save lives.”
“We are heartbroken for the families that are grieving,” said Gretchen Browne, a volunteer with the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action. “It is not normal to routinely respond to gun violence at the rate we do in this country. We must move away from the refrain of thoughts and prayers to actually being heartbroken enough to proactively fight for common sense gun safety laws and finally sever the ties between the gun lobby and our lawmakers.”
“The college experience shouldn’t include fearing for your life, but for so many of us, it does,” said Megan Westerman, a volunteer with Students Demand Action in Virginia. “It’s unacceptable that students on campuses across the country have faced the same trauma that UVA students are experiencing right now. Leaders at every level have to step up and act to keep our campus communities safe from gun violence.”
Since 2013, there have been over 300 shootings on the grounds of a college or university. Just last month in Harrisonburg, Virginia, eight people were shot and wounded near James Madison University, and in February, a late-night shooting at a hookah lounge near the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg left one person dead and four injured. In 2007, Virginia Tech experienced one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history when an undergraduate student shot and killed 32 people, and himself.
As stories of mass killings, daily shootings, and hate-motivated violence continue to overwhelm the news, the need for common sense gun safety laws is more critical than ever. Research shows that strong gun laws save lives, but across the country, some state lawmakers are actively working to weaken existing protections. Lawmakers at every level have an important role to play in making our communities safe. They must prioritize a commonsense gun safety agenda to save lives and put an end to the senseless acts of violence permeating our daily lives.
Since 2009, the U.S. has had at least 284 mass shootings, defined as four or more people shot and killed, resulting in at least 1,599 people shot and killed and 1,050 people shot and wounded. This includes at least 7 mass shootings in Virginia, resulting in 41 people shot and killed and 6 people shot and wounded. The reach of each mass shooting stretches far beyond those killed and wounded, harming the well-being of survivors, their families, and entire communities.
In an average year in Virginia, 1,065 people die by guns and 1,911 people are wounded. Gun violence costs Virginia $14.2 billion each year, of which $288.3 million is paid by taxpayers. More information about gun violence in Virginia is available here.
To speak to a local volunteer with Moms Demand Action, a volunteer with Students Demand Action, or a policy expert, please don’t hesitate to reach out.