Del. Ken Plum: Protecting Our Families

by Del. Ken Plum September 1, 2016 at 1:15 pm 12 Comments

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

In the week that I was in Chicago for the annual Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), there was a record 100 people shot in the city in less than a week. According to data kept by the Chicago Tribune, there had been by that time 2,514 shooting victims–about 800 more than at the same time last year.

Between the Friday afternoon after I had arrived and the next Thursday morning, at least 99 people were shot in the city — 24 of them fatally. Among the wounded was a 10-year-old boy who was shot in the back.

Although I was in the city, I had no direct or personal knowledge of what was going on. I was downtown in the McCormick Convention Center part of the city, and I saw no violence and heard no police sirens. What I knew came from reading the newspaper. The experience reminded me that although most of us fortunately live outside areas of violence, we can never be sure of when our sense of safety can be shattered and the next instance of gun violence can happen in or near our community.

Who would have thought that a record for mass murders would be set in Virginia in 2007 when 32 people were killed and 17 wounded on a college campus? That record was broken in 2016 in an Orlando, Florida, nightclub when a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53. Mass murders that for most of our history did not take place are becoming too frequent. But beyond the mass murders there are more than 33,000 gun deaths and more than 130,000 people shot per year in this country.

According to the organization Americans for Responsible Solutions, Americans are 25 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than people in other developed countries like ours. They report that from 2005-2015 71 Americans were killed by terrorist attacks on U.S. soil while 301,797 were killed by gun violence during the same period. Their shocking statistics show that since the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012 a child under 12 has been killed by intentional or accidental gunfire every other day. More than 50 gun suicides occur on average every day in our country making guns the most common and lethal means of suicide.

We cannot let these numbers become the norm for our country nor can we let ourselves become desensitized to the public health menace that gun violence has become. That is why I and others participate in an End Gun Violence Vigil at the headquarters of the National Rifle Association (NRA) on the 14th of every month to keep in the public mind the role that gun manufacturers and others play with their campaign contributions and lobbying in defeating commonsense gun safety laws.

I hope that gun violence becomes a major issue in the current presidential and congressional campaigns. I will be introducing a universal background check bill in the next session of the General Assembly.

  • Family Man


    Just going by the title you chose – America more than ever needs a holiday dedicated to the family, a holiday “family day”. A day to reflect on our blessings and to strengthen the bonds.

    I know this was proposed in the past but paradoxically the bushes shot it down.

    Please let’s table this legislature, thanks.

  • One really

    Yes, “universal background checks” would have stopped those senseless shootings in Chicago. I am sure all of those guns are registered.
    I can’t believe he is elected each time.

  • Ming the Merciless

    They report that from 2005-2015 71 Americans were killed by terrorist
    attacks on U.S. soil while 301,797 were killed by gun violence during
    the same period.

    Over 60% of these deaths are suicides. The US suicide rate is not especially high. Banning guns is not going to stop suicide (see: Japan).

    Gun violence has dramatically declined since the 1990s.


    Go away, Ken.

  • Rational Reston

    Reston’s Don Quixote makes another run at a windmill that has nothing to do with everyday Reston issues.

    Reston, PLEASE move on from Del. Plum who’s only shilling for the bigger machine, and elect anyone with a pulse and with an idea (even bad ones) for Reston, and Northern Virginia.

  • meh

    So the 2nd amendment is a no-go?

  • Tired of it all

    Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, yet murders continue unabated. Maybe the bumper sticker is right. When guns are outlawed, outlaws will still have guns.

  • WMN

    Move away Ken. Please move away.

  • Walter Hadlock

    A theme in comments to Del. Ken Plum’s regular column is “how does this guy get reelected”? As someone who does not live in Mr. Plum’s district, my thought is “why doesn’t someone get up the courage and run against him”? He’s pretty much a placeholder for the Democrats. I don’t know much about his record during times the Democrats had the majority in the House of Delegates, but he dutifully goes to Richmond and apparently introduces various bills that go nowhere.

  • Anthony

    Hey Delegate Plum. I’m moving to Reston and your anti-second amendment rhetoric will ensure you don’t have my vote. You should really read the comments below from educated Virginians. Why you chose Chicago, one of the most anti-gun cities in America as your example is very confusing. Personally, I chose to live in Virginia rather than Maryland specifically due to Virginia’s strong defense of the Constitution. Maybe you should compare gun related crimes rates between the two?

  • Del Mueller

    Gun control proposals must deal with the two groups pf people that commit most of gun violence. Criminals and the mentally ill. Law abiding citizens are typically targeted but they are not the problem. Gun traffickers deserve special contempt because they supply criminals with firepower. I am in favor of mandatory waiting periods for firearms and also restrictions for high capacity magazines. And body armour should not be available for anyone. Background checks sound great but if you are a felon, you simply get a straw buyer.

  • drb

    Well it is nice to see that Mr. Plum is so concerned with gun deaths and wishes to do something about it. In this article we see the one thing he thinks will stave off the deaths via guns is universal back ground checks.

    Of those 33,000 deaths about 8,000 where murders. While 2.5
    million times a year crimes are thwarted with a firearm.

    The fact is that anyone in Virginia that will go and buy a gun will already have to have a back ground check. The exception is if your neighbor wishes to sell to his neighbor. Like most law abiding citizens though we would be willing to do a back ground check on someone but we are not allowed. Mr. Plum’s legislation would add an undue high cost of having that check performed when it is the States responsibility. Unfortunately, Mr. Plum just will not sign on to common sense laws that will help the public to perform the easy back ground check or without charging a very high fee.

    A question comes to mind as to why Mr. Plum does not seem to care so much for the same amount of deaths via automobiles or the higher number of 48,000 deaths from poisoning.
    Why not support the NRA in their Eddie Eagle program of gun safety for children or their other firearm safety programs? Oh yah, you want to protest rather than work with solutions.

  • The Constitutionalist

    Here comes our savior Plum, to ignore the facts and buy in to his party’s rhetoric. Can’t wait until someone can muster the courage to run against you so you can be shuffled out of office and placed somewhere where you’re idiotic ideas can stop affecting so many constitution loving and law abiding Virginians.

    I literally can’t comprehend how you come to the conclusions that you do, I think it might be a mental disorder, but, what do I know?

    So, Chicago, a city with extremely strict gun laws has terrible gun violence. Let’s follow their example and do that here.

    Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense does it? But hey, it’s you Plum, expectations on “sense” can’t be placed that high.


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