Seven of the Democrats vying to challenge U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10) in November gathered for the Town Hall for Our Lives event on Saturday to talk guns.
Attorney and state Sen. Jennifer T. Wexton (D-33); Dr. Shadi Ayyas; Alison Friedman, who works to combat human trafficking; consultant and Army veteran Dan Helmer; law professor, attorney and former federal prosecutor Paul Pelletier; infectious disease scientist Dr. Julia Biggins; and consultant and former Congressional and White House staff Lindsey Davis Stover attended. They talked to a packed crowd, many of whom were school-aged, that spilled out into the hallway at Cascades Library.
While the seven candidates agreed in broad strokes on how to tackle gun violence in the United States, they traded perspectives and occasional barbs.
“I can prosecute you for trafficking salamanders illegally, but I can’t prosecute you for trafficking guns, because there’s no law,” Pelletier said. “That’s crazy.”
“We have to expand the conversation beyond mass shootings, because this isn’t just about mass shootings in our schools,” Stover said. “This is about ensuring people don’t have access to firearms that are willing to hurt themselves and others.”
Two of the race’s most visible candidates thus far, Helmer and Wexton, challenged each other on their respective records, while Pelletier brought two bullets to illustrate the difference between the kinds of ammunition used in handguns and the long rounds used in many assault-style rifles.
But each agreed on one person: the incumbent congressional representative, Comstock.
“I think everybody in this room understands that Congresswoman Comstock’s path to victory is entirely dependent on voters not understanding her record,” Friedman said.
Comstock also faces a challenge from Republican Shak Hill from the right. Primary elections are in June. The deadline to register to vote in that election is May 21. The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is June 5.