Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin is facing calls to address gun violence after two mass shootings took place in the state in as many weeks, Newsweek reports.
Earlier this week, a manager at a Walmart in Chesapeake shot and killed six people, as well as injuring several others, and himself after entering the employee break room. The week before, a student at the University of Virginia allegedly shot and killed three members of the school football team.
Although Youngkin denounced the crimes, saying, "Heinous acts of violence have no place in our communities," activists are pushing him to do more to reduce gun violence.
"Call it what it is @GlennYoungkin. IT IS GUN VIOLENCE!!! It happened under your leadership. Instead of dishonesty, reach out and let's work together to solve this," said Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in a tweet to Youngkin.
The organization Brady: United Against Gun Violence also criticized Youngkin for saying the shooting demonstrates a "mental health crisis" in the country.
"FACT: Only 3%–5% of violent acts can be linked to people living [with] a serious mental illness," the group tweeted. "Continuing this false rhetoric deters from the evidence-based solutions that will end America's gun violence epidemic. Virginians, next Nov. you can vote for real gun safety champions."
Youngkin said earlier this week that once the investigations into those shootings are completed "we'll have time to come together and talk about what actions we can take."
One option some Democrat lawmakers continue to press involves beefing up so-called "red flag" laws. These involve allowing guns and ammo to be taken away from people deemed dangerous to themselves.
But those laws have come under criticism, with some branding them hard to enforce and of limited effectiveness.
After another deadly mass shooting this month, at a gay club in Colorado, some observers quickly noted that such flags weren't raised despite the suspect's apparently roubled youth.
Lawmakers in Virginia put through a range of gun restrictions in 2020, including background checks, reporting requirements for stolen or lost firearms, a limit of one gun buy a month per person for most, and a red-flag law. The following year, the legislature also passed a three-year ban on gun possession for some convicted of assaulting relatives, said The New York Times.
Still, in some ways gun laws remain relatively lenient in the state, the paper said, noting that it allows open carry of handguns without a permit with some exceptions.
In the past, the Republican Youngkin has said he supports the repeal of some of the Dem-led policies. It remains to be seen how the recent shootings and ongoing investigations might influence his policy aims.
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