Del. Ken Plum: Time to Act on Guns, Virginia

by Del. Ken Plum September 3, 2015 at 1:00 pm 53 Comments

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is commentary by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Virginia made history last week — not for the kind of event for which we would like to be remembered, but one nonetheless that took place on our soil and will be talked about around the globe.

Virginia is home of the first on-camera televised and social media-exposed double murder. A disgruntled television worker shot a reporter and her guest and the cameraman while the show was being televised and then publicized his deed on Facebook and Twitter before shooting himself.

In the 2009 Virginia Tech massacre, 32 students and professors were killed in the deadliest shooting incident by a single gunman in this country. In the future, Smith Mountain Lake — which has been known as a wonderful place to have a lakeside home for weekend or retirement living — will also be known for the live murders on television, just as the excellent university that Virginia Tech is always will be remembered in part for the massacre that occurred there.

Aurora, Colo., Newtown, Conn., and other places are getting the same kind of blight on their names as the epidemic of mass murders accelerates at an alarming pace.

As astounding as what seems to be a growing tolerance in this country for mass murders occurring in school houses, on college campuses, in theaters and now on television is, the paralysis of elected officials to do anything about it is truly baffling.

The Founding Fathers certainly had none of the present carnage in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment about a standing militia. Certainly the current state of affairs does not promote life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness among the citizenry.

Shocking also is the ability of gun manufacturers and their advocates to turn these situations into opportunities to promote more gun sales and to propose arming of school teachers, college students, citizens, and now I suppose television reporters. Rather than gun safety measures being put into place, there has been a steady erosion of such laws in Virginia and throughout the country.

Part of the solution is expanded mental health services to respond to the needs of individuals who may become violent. Virginia expanded funding for mental health programs after the Virginia Tech massacre but reduced it again soon thereafter. It took a violent attack on a member of the legislature, Creigh Deeds, by his own son to get the money restored. Laws need to be strengthened to ensure thorough background checks so that those whose mental illness causes violence do not get access to guns.

We are past time to act. I trust that voters will look at incumbents’ records on gun safety legislation and will vote accordingly. I will continue to introduce and work hard to pass expanded background checks for gun purchasers. Let’s turn this around and make history again by making Virginia one of the strongest states to take decisive action to prevent gun violence.

  • Prius


  • Henry Rearden

    Odd how you failed to mention that the shooter was an African-American and Democrat. Clearly he just needs compassion and support Ken

    • Mike M

      Had the reverse been true, I think it would be safe to say the Democrats would see the event as a twofer. A chance to re-declare one of their most favorite contituencies as oppressed and due for recompense, AND a gun control issue. Funny how it doesn’t work in reverse.

      But I am thinkin’ Henry, maybe you and I now have an excuse to loot the liquor stores. Let’s go for it!

  • Crossbow


  • Machete


    • parks207

      Banned in NY

  • Diana Inside Scoops

    Ken is wrong again . Mentally Ill people are behind these attacks, the attacker could of snuck up on the reporter and camera man with a knife or hammer and had the same results. Focus your efforts on removing mentally ill people from society until they are properly treated and monitored.

    • Henry Rearden

      That’s a bingo. Had the man not had access to a firearm he would have used another method, nevertheless he was set on that act of violence and nothing would have stopped him.

      Had this man run the two people over in his car, would Ken be calling for a ban on all motor vehicles?

  • MJay

    Plum references mental health, which is something even the NRA supports when it pertains to fixing the broken mental health system. But in typical Plum fashion, he offers no tangible plan and instead regurgitates old platitudes. Has he been in office so long that he is now just plain lazy? Moreover, despite Plum’s reference to mental health, the headline gives away the fact that Plum’s real motivation is to restrict firearm sales to the point that it is way too difficult for law-abiding citizens to buy them. And Plum’s staid argument referencing the founding fathers omits the fact that the Supreme Court consistently interprets the Second Amendment to apply to citizens, and not just the militia as he insinuates.

  • Mike M

    ” . . .a growing tolerance in this country for mass murders . . .”
    Ken, upon what do you base this nutty statement? There is no growing tolerance for mass murder. AND, it’s against the law.

    “. . . the paralysis of elected officials.”
    And what would you propose they do, Ken? Repeal the Second Amendment?

    Also, what if dying in a car accident were 100 times more likely than being shot to death by a fire arm, would you seek to outlaw cars? Well, guess what. These incidents might make for sensational news, but they very rare. So, enough with the scare tactics.

    Ken, how would you articulate your own “gun safety record?” I would characterize it as reaction to flashy news stories with proposals that would not have prevented the event in the first place.

    • Ming the Merciless

      Ken wants us to be as safe as the inhabitants of civilized, gun-free Britain.

  • Henry Rearden

    Ken, did you know Planned Parenthood kills more babies than guns do? But I guess we’ll let that go on, since those poor innocent fetuses can’t vote.

  • Scotty McStrange

    Illinois and Maryland have really strong gun laws and look
    how safe Chicago and Baltimore turned out.
    Two more liberal cities that everyone envies…

    • Greg

      Oh, and Detroit. Safe as safe can be.

      DC too.

      • WhoIsJohnGalt

        Don’t forget San Fran. That DREAMer that killed that poor woman in cold blood

      • TBex

        Where do you think those guns came from, morons? Think criminals manufactured them? Every gun manufacturer or “responsible gun owner” that bought a gun that was later used in a streetcrime should pay out the nose for it.

  • Ming the Merciless

    what seems to be a growing tolerance in this country for mass murders

    Who is “tolerating” mass murder, Ken?

    And who is inflaming the hatreds that lead to this particular murder? (Hint: a party whose name starts with D)

    The Founding Fathers certainly had none of the present carnage in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment about a standing militia.

    In point of fact the murder rate in the mid to late 1700s was MUCH higher than today – which made the need for self-defense very obvious to a group of politicians far more wise than you.

    Certainly the current state of affairs does not promote life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness among the citizenry.

    Being able to defend yourself promotes all three.

    • Mary Cavanaugh


  • Mary Cavanaugh

    Dear Mr. Plum,
    If you were truly concerned with the safety of your constituency, you would make sure that no one interferes with law abiding citizens’ 2nd Amendment Rights.

  • Cluster Tycoon

    I am worried that K. GOFF will be shot if she censors the wrong comment. Perhaps let’s do away with the whole comment section altogether. Or keep it so we can at least digitally keep track of all the nutcases out there and keep the forum as a safety valve for this who n33d to blow off steam.

    Unsure actually. Maybe someone else has a better idea.

    Thanks and may the swartz be vid you.

    • Ming the Merciless

      I can tell your frontal lobes are hurting again.

      • Cluster Tycoon

        Thans for your diagnosis, that implies existence. If you feel like Ken is the wrong guy for you maybe go back to Canada. I can help you pack and provide dirextions.

        • Ming the Merciless

          You must have mistaken me for one of the countless Democrats who threaten to move to Canada if some Republican is elected, and then (sadly) never follow through on that threat.

          If I want “dirextions” then I will “axe” you for them. =)

    • Mary Cavanaugh

      You mean the comment that doesn’t coincide with the liberal agenda being pushed here. Please! That’s right Cluster Tycoon, why don’t we simultaneously stomp on everyone’s First and Second Amendment Rights, great idea!

      • Mary Troll

        Just to be clear: one has no zero none zilch first amendment rights to post on this website.

        • RoadApples

          A curious question in an attempt to gain clarity on MT’s post:
          Is a quadruple negative “no zero none zilch” still a negative – or does it become a positive + ?

          • Cluster Tycoon

            I think she meant no zero none zilch zippo, awaiting your calculation r3sults

          • John Higgins

            My home supercomputer is in the shop with my personal email server, so I had to do the calculations by hand. 1. no. 2. zero, 3. none (somewhat redundant of 1). 4. zilch. Sounds like Apple had it right. Zippo being a brand name, we can add zip as #5

            The Virginia incident discussed here is a terrible vehicle for debate of gun control or mental health issues. It did not involve any of the factors that reasonable people bring up in these debates. No assault weapon, no illegally obtained firearm, no evaded background check … And no diagnosed mental health issue. Taken as a whole, the assailant’s history certainly suggests imbalance, but one can only imagine the outcry if employers started labeling as “sick” everyone who makes allegations of harassment or discrimination.

            That leaves us with tragic consequences that become ineffectively exploited. If one can’t win with reason and logic, maybe a measure of emotion will do the trick.

            Whether or not you agree with Del. Plum knowing how our representatives think and how they come out on issues is extraordinarily valuable.

        • Mary Cavanaugh

          Troll says it all.

        • Mary Cavanaugh

          ‘Troll’ says it all.

    • susie

      You’re the only one that mentioned getting shot for their opinion…

    • Truth Hurts

      Once again Cluster Tycoon is showing how devoid of reasoning he is. What a ridiculous and childish comment

  • Mary Cavanaugh

    The “tolerance” toward these recent killings, that I am most concerned about, comes from straight from the top!
    “As astounding as what seems to be a growing tolerance in this country for mass murders occurring in school houses, on college campuses, in theaters and now on television is, the paralysis of elected officials to do anything about it is truly baffling.” – Del. Ken Plum

  • Mary Cavanaugh

    The “tolerance” toward these recent killings, that I am most concerned about, comes from straight from the top! So, what are you going to do about that Del. Ken Plum?
    “As astounding as what seems to be a growing tolerance in this country for mass murders occurring in school houses, on college campuses, in theaters and now on television is, the paralysis of elected officials to do anything about it is truly baffling.” – Del. Ken Plum https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/558b93572be416ef5bfcaaefd741c78af836f5cc3167614863b212c501597f4a.jpg

  • Commonsense

    You’re right, the second amendment was written in a different time and for a vastly different purpose. It was not intended to put dangerous weapons in the hands of the mentally ill or criminals and we have lost the ability to effectively manage the gun system. Average citizens do not need automatic weapons, they’re not toys, ban them. Ban them now.

    • Ming the Merciless

      Average citizens do not own automatic weapons. The owners are:
      1. Wealthy collectors willing to pay a high price and jump through a lot of legal hoops, and
      2. Criminals who make their own or smuggle them in. For some unknown reason – oh wait, it is known, the reason is that criminals don’t obey the law – the government ban on them owning such weapons is ineffective.

      • Commonsense

        Ban them and take them away from criminals. I also include semi automatic weapons, which are plentiful and easy to purchase. The loopholes at va gun shows makes all guns easy to come by. Yes, we can take illegal things away from criminals, drugs, weapons, whatever is illegal. It’s possible, we need the will to do so.

        • Ming the Merciless

          (sigh) There is ALREADY a ban on criminals owning fully automatic weapons. There is NO loophole at gun shows, and this does NOT make guns easy to come by.

          We can take illegal things away from criminals? Really? How is that war on drugs working out? It is impossible for criminals to use, possess, or sell illegal drugs now, right? The effort to ban guns will be just like that.

          Your desire to ban guns indicates a desire to ban effective self-defense. This is an evil goal, and impossible to achieve as well.

          What is “common sense” is that you should abandon your desire to trample on the rights of others and to render law-abiding citizens defenseless.

    • Henry Rearden

      I had no idea I could go to the local Wally World or Target and walk out with an AR-15. Have you ever tried to purchase a firearm? You just don’t go to the teller and say “one gun please”

  • Chuck Morningwood

    Well, now that our frothy mouthed friends have had their say, I fail to see how expanding the system of background checks as well as increased spending on mental health will infringe in any sane person’s right to own a firearm if they so choose.

    Just reading the vitriol in these other comments is a pretty loud indication of just how polarized people’s opinions are on the matter of 2A, and just how difficult it is to have a reasonable discussion on the topic.

    On the other hand, if you’re walking through the woods to Hunter’s Woods Shopping Center, it’s best to be packing.

    • Ming the Merciless

      Uh huh. With the Left it is always just one more leeeeeetle thing… come on, just compromise and be reasonable…

      By now even the stupidest “moderate” should have noticed that nothing will make the likes of Ken go away. Give him something today, he’ll be back for something else tomorrow.

      • Chuck Morningwood

        And right wing politicians would be any different? It’s the nature of the beast. After all, if KP does anything, you guys complain; and if he doesn’t do anything, you guys complain.

        Like I said, it’s the nature of the beast.

        • Ming the Merciless

          “Right wing” politicians ARE different. They are not just failing to get what their voters want, they are failing to STOP the Left from getting what it wants. All we get from them is “failure theater” – the process by which the Establishment deliberately fails to do achieve
          anything, but wants credit from the Dumb Conservatives they’re playing
          to for allegedly “trying.”

  • Greg

    What an utter buffoon you are, Ken! Name ONE person who is tolerating mass murders?

    • Who

      Obama, for political purposes he loves them.

  • shagga

    Ken wants us to turn in our guns…LOL! Too many crazies out there, and his party’s leadership is making things worse.


  • NRA_Mum

    It pains me to read Ken’s “opinions”. Love the select discussion on guns and violence. The current sad state of our country is not the fault of guns and gun owners. It’s the blatant disregard for the value of human life, both the unborn and those who put their lives in harm’s way to protect our communities. Where’s the call for respecting the law and order that are currently enacted? Show our Police officers the respect they deserve! And as for gun safety, NO ONE has more respect for a fire arm than those who own their own guns or are members of the NRA. Enough dancing around already on the root of the breakdown, but I’m not going to go there.

    • Chuck Morningwood

      Really? And how much gun violence has been committed with legally purchased firearms. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the incident to which Del. Plum refers, the assassin legally purchased that firearm, and then committed a most heinous crime. So much for “respect” from legal gun owners.

      • NRA_Mum

        You do the analysis and look at the US and DC US Census data from 2010 on murder rates (both with and without guns) across all states and calculate the correlation analysis (number of gun murders versus % of gun ownership). It clearly shows that gun ownership decreases gun murders. The reason that we have fewer gun laws is because they are ineffective and strip citizens of their constitutional liberties. Heinous people will always commit heinous crimes, but I’ll take my chances with my Glock by my side.

  • Brian Mumford

    It’s amazing to me how ten murders done separately with various weapons won’t prompt this man to write anything, but two simultaneous televised homicides perpetrated with a firearm will elicit a gun control response at the expense of our 2nd Amendment rights. Homicide and suicide are socioeconomic and culturally-related phenomenon; they are not tied to gun control (Mauser, Kates, 2006). If anything, liberating gun control laws tends to lower crime (Lott, 2010). For example, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, states that permit concealed carry have less murder than ones that are restrictive. According to the latest numbers (2013), permissive states have 345 murders per 100,000 while restrictive states (including Washington D.C.) average 467. Fix the socioeconomic conditions and you’ll lower violent crime. That’s why Russia has a higher homicide rate than the U.S. even though it has far stricter gun control laws. Similarly, it’s also why Switzerland, which has FULLY automatic assault weapons in virtually every household, has one of the lowest homicide rates in Europe. Gun control laws only restrict law abiding citizens. Criminals get them off the streets, or they find some other way to kill. Moreover, the founding fathers could imagine quite a bit carnage, Mr. Plum; after all, homicide rates were drastically higher in their time than they are now. In fact, no period in our lifetime comes close. Lastly, it’s amazing to me how people talk in terms of education when they embrace something, but when they don’t, they turn away from educating and go straight to restricting and/or banning their way out of solving a social problem. We need more of the former and less of the latter in my opinion.

  • parks207

    I just sold my machine gun. You probably live in a state that bans them.

  • avery12

    I too am shocked by the Democrats’ tolerance for over a million abortions a year. Talk about carnage!

  • Antonio Moretti

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