April 14, 2017 – Ten years ago, on Sunday, April 16, a gunman opened fire on campus at Virginia Tech in an attack that claimed the lives of 32 students and professors and wounded 17. At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting in American history. Today, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, co-founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions, issued the following statement:
“As we pause to reflect on that horrific day at Virginia Tech ten years ago, our hearts are with those whose lives and families were forever changed. We know the heartbreak they face daily – and we stand with them in the fight to make America safer by finding solutions to prevent senseless gun violence.
“Like the shooting in Tucson, the Virginia Tech massacre was a reminder of the devastation that can occur when untreated mental health disorders and access to guns are combined. Virginia Tech is also a reminder that our nation’s leaders can respond to tragedy by taking action to make our communities safer. In the aftermath of the massacre, President George W. Bush signed the bipartisan NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007, which sought to ensure individuals who are ineligible to possess guns for mental health or other reasons could easily be identified through the background check system.
“Americans should be alarmed that ten years later, Congress is now taking steps to dismantle the lifesaving improvements passed in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy. Following an election season in which the gun lobby doubled down on promoting policies that make our communities less safe, one of the first acts of the new Congress was to roll back the Social Security Administration’s regulations, therefore allowing certain severely mentally disabled individuals to buy guns. The House of Representatives also recently passed a bill that would immediately allow over 174,000 veterans who are currently prohibited from obtaining guns — because they are struggling with conditions like long-term severe PTSD, schizophrenia, and dementia — to buy guns. This action puts those individuals at risk and threatens the safety of our communities.
“As our leaders stand with the Virginia Tech community to remember the horror that unfolded ten years ago, they must also remember that it’s their responsibility to seek solutions that can prevent future tragedies. There is more work to be done and we cannot afford to undo the policies that have helped save lives in the last ten years. America deserves better.”
Related Resource: Remembering Virginia Tech – NICS and Background Checks a Decade Later