Thursday, January 19, 2012

Letter to State Delegate Ransone and State Senator Stuart

Governor McDonnell’s (and the Republican) agenda for 2012 is to loosen gun controls and restrictions in Virginia. There is no mention of keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

Following the Virginia Tech shooting, Virginia’s Republicans and Democrats promised they would adopt policies to make our campuses safer—emphasis was put on mental health and keeping guns from those who are dangerous to themselves and others. Governor McDonnell was Attorney General when those promises were made. He did not object; his silence was tacit approval. The promises have not been kept.

The mentally ill can still go to any gun show in Virginia and buy a weapon without a background check. Colorado closed that loophole after Columbine; Virginia should do the same.

Governor McDonnell apparently considers that sponsoring a radio jingle to raise awareness is the right response to the Peter Odighizuwa’s, Cho Seung-Hui’s, and Ross Turett Ashley’s of this world. It is not.

Virginia spends less on mental health than it did before April 16, 2007. Furthermore, McDonnell is intent on privatizing the state’s mental health program. Privatization will weaken, not strengthen mental health care. A similar privatization program in New Jersey has led to a decline in the quality of care.

Privatization may be popular with some—but it is fool’s gold. Privatization is not more efficient than the current state-run program. Virginia will lose economy of scale through privatization. There will be cuts in care to ensure profits.

With voters clamoring for ethics in government, McDonnell should keep promises—particularly involving the safety of our schools.

I are asking you to strengthen, not loosen laws to keep guns out of the hands of the unstable; I am asking you not to weaken mental health care—keep it in the hands of the state

Yours sincerely,

David Cariens

Kilmarnock, Virginia

Sunday, January 15, 2012


The one-month record for background checks was set in November -- over 1.5 million December has already surpassed that record -- with a few days left in the month. The NRA says the figures indicate more people feel they need guns for self defense.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- December holiday shoppers were not just interested in buying the hottest electronics and toys -- they also were purchasing record numbers of guns, according to the latest FBI figures on background checks required to buy firearms.

With a few days left in December, the FBI reports the number of background checks has already topped the previous one-month record -- set only in November -- of 1,534,414 inquiries by gun dealers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System also known as NICS. Almost half a million checks were done in just the last six days before Christmas.

Two days before Christmas, NICS ran 102,222 background checks, which was the second-busiest day in history. The one-day record was set this year on Black Friday, the big shopping day following Thanksgiving, with 129,166 searches. By comparison, the previous one-day high was set November 28, 2008, when gun dealers made slightly less than 98,000 requests for background searches.

It's not possible to tell exactly how many guns have been purchased because buyers often take home more than one gun. But most people pass the background checks. Only 1.3% of the searches result in people being denied permission to buy a weapon, said FBI spokesman Steve Fischer.

FBI officials did not offer a theory on the spike in gun sales. It's also not clear how many of the background checks were for people who never had owned guns before and how many were for gun owners adding to their collections.

The National Rifle Association says the figures indicate more people feel they need guns for self defense.

"I think there's an increased realization that when something bad occurs, it's going to be between them and the criminal," NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told CNN. Arulandandum said Americans realize police cannot be everywhere there's trouble and also that some officers are being laid off due to budget cutting.

The NRA spokesman also said an increased number of Americans are participating in skeet shooting and other gun sports.

A leading gun-control organization says repeat buyers most likely are responsible for the holiday surge in guns sales.

"The research we've seen indicates fewer and fewer people are owning more and more guns," said Caroline Brewer of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "All the trends indicate the number of Americans who own guns has declined."

"It would appear because of fear-mongering by the NRA since (President Barack) Obama's election that people are adding more guns to their arsenals out of fear Obama and the Democrats will take away their guns, which is absurd," said Brewer.