Ahead of Meetings, Volunteers Led A Kickoff Rally Alongside Delegate Laura Jane Cohen and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney
RICHMOND, VA — Today, over 200 volunteers with the Virginia chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, came together for a day of advocacy for gun violence prevention in Richmond. This year’s advocacy day came just days after Virginia’s legislators started their 2024 legislative session with gun-sense majorities in both the Senate and the House, already having introduced many gun safety bills, including bills to ban assault weapons and ghost guns, require secure storage of firearms, and much more. Volunteers were joined for a kickoff rally by Delegate Laura Jane Cohen, a former volunteer with Moms Demand Action, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Executive Director of Moms Demand Action Angela Ferrell-Zabala, and La’Ketha Prioleau of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority earlier in the day.
“Today’s advocacy day follows the election of gun-sense majorities in the House and Senate in the 2023 election that will champion our gun violence prevention priorities and work to keep our communities safe,” said Joy McManus, the chapter co-lead of the Virginia Chapter of Moms Demand Action. “In November, we showed our legislators that if they don’t put the safety of our communities first, we will replace them with those who do. Now, we’re back and ready to get to work with our gun sense champions in both chambers, led by Speaker Don Scott and Majority Leader Scott Surovell, so that we can send long overdue legislation to prevent gun violence in our communities to Governor Youngkin’s desk.”
“Virginia voters showed up at the ballot box and proved that they will not tolerate elected officials who deny their communities common sense gun safety measures. Today’s advocacy day is all about leveraging those electoral victories into meaningful action,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action. “Moms Demand Action volunteers worked tirelessly to transform Virginia from the NRA’s stronghold to a gun sense majority, with our volunteers making up 20% of the House Democratic caucus. With this momentum, and with the public on our side, we can now create laws that make Virginia communities safer.”
“I joined my school’s Students Demand Action chapter because I wanted to help, and I realized then that the effects of gun violence are all around me, the ultimate cause of my dedication and passion to this cause,” said Ava Saunders, a volunteer with the Hayfield Secondary School Students Demand Action chapter. “I couldn’t express more appreciation for these organizations, because they amplify the voices of students in this movement … I urge everyone; help us. Help us pass laws, anything that can make a difference in this fight. Help us stay alive in school, at work, at the mall, at restaurants, going on walks. Help us.”
Volunteers met with lawmakers and their staff to advocate for the passage of gun violence prevention measures this upcoming session, including bills to ban assault weapons; require enhanced background checks on the purchases of firearms; prohibit the unserialized, untraceable ghost guns and the parts used to build them; expand the accessibility of substantial risk orders to help keep guns away from individuals who pose a risk of harming themselves or others; and increase investments in community violence intervention programs.
Our volunteers are fired up for this upcoming session and ready to work with lawmakers and leaders at all levels to pass gun violence prevention laws that will protect our communities and save lives. In an average year in Virginia, 1,121 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.