Wexton Hosts 1st Gun Safety Town Hall

In a year when more than 200 Americans have been killed in shootings, U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10) is learning more from residents about what the federal government can do to improve the nation’s gun laws.

About 200 people spent Saturday afternoon out of the summer heat, but well within the political heat stirred during the first-year U.S. congresswoman’s first gun safety town hall at J. Michael Lunsford Middle School in Chantilly. Joining Wexton were Barbara Boardman, a pediatrician and assistant professor and clinical instructor at Georgetown University; David Chipman, a senior policy advisor at gun violence prevention group Giffords, led by former Congresswoman and shooting victim Gabrielle Giffords, and a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Firearms Committee; and Christian Heyne, the vice president of policy at gun violence prevention group Brady. The forum gave all four a chance to hear from residents how the federal government should, or shouldn’t, place additional restrictions on firearm purchases.

Wexton kicked off the town hall saying the nation has been “struck by mass killings more than we should” and that there’s “no community that is safe from gun violence.”

According to Mass Shooting Tracker, 231 people have been killed in the U.S. in mass shootings this year.

Heyne described an instance of gun violence 14 years ago when he lost his mother. He said it was on Memorial Day weekend in 2005 when a disgruntled neighbor killed his mother by shooting her in the back after first shooting his father three times.

Heyne said that led him to devote his life to finding ways to keep “deadly weapons” from getting into “dangerous hands” and finding evidence-based policies that don’t prevent law abiding, responsible residents from retaining their rights to bear arms.

In talking about how the government can make that happen, Chipman, a former special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, described what he said were  flaws in the nation’s gun laws that have allowed a convicted murderer to falsify their home addresses and buy multiple guns.

Chipman also noted that a high school senior can go to a gun show and purchase the same type of rifle that S.W.A.T. teams use without government awareness or vetting. “That doesn’t line up with my thoughts with what is reasonable,” he said.

Heyne echoed Chipman’s concern and gave an example from his past. He said that in 2012, he and a friend walked into a gun show with $500 in cash, handed it to a “stranger” who looked at his friend’s I.D. and placed a .38-caliber revolver in a Food Lion bag without conducting a background check or giving them a bill of sale. “It was completely legal,” he said.

An attendee at Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10)’s first gun safety town hall on Saturday wears a “Guns Save Live” sticker, as provided by the Virginia Citizens Defense League. [Patrick Szabo/Loudoun Now]
On the topic of more in-depth background checks, Chipman said they probably wouldn’t prevent all gun crime, but would prevent many occurrences of it.

He referenced the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and how they prompted increased security in airports. He said that while that inconveniencing all airline passengers, it’s provided them with an increased level of safety when flying, just as more background checks for gun sales would do for the general public’s overall safety.  “It’s an inconvenience I’m absolutely willing to do to serve a bigger good,” he said.

One attendee told the panel that the government should implement educational classes on firearms, since background checks don’t prevent law-abiding citizens from privately selling guns to someone with bad intentions. Wexton said she was “all for firearm safety courses” and in-person training for concealed carry permits.

Boardman said that firearm education courses, however, aren’t appropriate for all age groups, pointing to studies have shown that such courses might increase the attractiveness of guns to younger generations.

Arthur Purves, the president of Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance who recently filed to run as the Republican challenger to state Sen. Janet Howell (D-32) in the November election, said the 10 Commandments present the most effective gun laws, to which Wexton replied, “I don’t think that’s a particularly effective way to combat gun violence in our society today.”

Switching from the topic of background checks, Saturday’s discussion also focused a bit on gun-free zones, which one attendee said “are nothing but killing zones.”

When Wexton mentioned that May’s Virginia Beach shooting happened in a location that wasn’t a gun-free zone, several members of the audience spoke up, saying that the municipal building where the shooting took place did prohibit employees there from carrying guns.

“The police are minutes away when seconds count,” he said. “We’re the first line of defense, really.”

Wexton held the town hall a day after she introduced the Empowering Law Enforcement for Safer Firearm Transfers Act—a bill that would allow law enforcement officers to block the sale or transferof any weapon or gun silencer regulated under the National Firearms Act to people they determine are a danger to themselves or others.

The bill would once again give chief law enforcement officers—Sheriff Michael Chapman in Loudoun—90 days to block sales or transfers. That’s something they haven’t been able to do since 2016, when the laws were updated and National Firearms Act background check requirements were changed.

Currently, residents looking to purchase a silencer or other federally-regulated weapon must obtain approval from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, pass a background check, pay a $200 tax and notify the chief law enforcement officer in their jurisdiction.


A speaker at Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10)’s first gun safety town hall on Saturday approaches the stage to ask the first-year congresswoman a question. [Patrick Szabo/Loudoun Now]
Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10) answers questions from the media following her first gun safety town hall on Saturday. [Patrick Szabo/Loudoun Now]

6 thoughts on “Wexton Hosts 1st Gun Safety Town Hall

  • 2019-06-22 at 7:23 pm

    Sticking it to law-abiding citizens for the acts of criminals: Very progressive.

    Perfectly expected from a rep who had to use staffers dressed up as fake cops in her campaign ads. A rep that is against Due Process for Virginians. A rep who steals tax money designated for Northern Virginia roads, and gives it to the failing and corrupt Metro system. That’s called fraud, and most people would go to jail for it.

    And now she’s going to save us from ourselves? Pluueesseee.

  • 2019-06-22 at 8:51 pm

    There was a lot of biased and subjective information presented by Congresswoman Ms. Wexton and her panel. They weaved a small amount of truth into a larger web of subjective speculation, factually dubious information and bad logic.

    The panel was composed of two members of gun-control lobbying groups (The Brady Campaign and Giffords) and one doctor representing the American Association of Pediatrics.

    When asked about the single greatest improvement in gun safety laws, the panel agreed on background checks. Mr. Chipman quoted a long-defunct provision of gun purchases where background checks were only perfunctory.

    However, since 1998, if you buy a gun from an FFL in Virginia, you must go through a background check using the federally mandated NICs system. In addition, the Commonwealth now offers background checks at gun shows throughout the state.

    Additionally, when I noted that background checks did not prevent 5 notorious shootings, including Columbine, Mr. Christian Heyne stated that background checks would have prevented Columbine. He is completely and utterly wrong. The people who purchased the guns used at Columbine passed background checks and then illegally gave the guns to the high school students who conducted the murder spree.

    Mr. Chipman noted that any high school senior can walk into a store and buy the same rifle he was issued as a Federal Swat team member. This is correct, but he is talking about the rifle that was issued to such teams 20 years ago and not today. FBI SWAT teams have long been issued the M4 carbine which is a shorter variant of the M16A2 assault rifle. The AR-15 is not “essentially the same rifle” as the M4 or M16. Again, there is a kernel of (outdated) truth surrounded by some apparently intentional and disingenuous misdirection.

    Several people asked about Virginia Beach and “gun-free zones.” Ms. Wexton argued that the Virginia Beach Municipal Building was not a “gun-free zone.” That is in the strictest sense legally correct. But in practice, the city forbids employees from carrying at work. Customers entering the sections of the building open to the public may carry in the building. But the city forbids all employees from carry weapons at work.

    Evidently, Ms. Katherine Nixon, a city employee murdered in Virginia Beach agonized with her husband the night before she was murdered over the decision to carry her pistol to work the following day. She evidently was convinced there would be a serious problem at work the following day and felt she needed to be ready to protect herself. She ultimately did not carry her pistol that fateful day. Services were performed for her earlier this month.

    One of the premises referenced several times is the need to predict violent behavior and then enact laws to prevent that violence. Unfortunately, it is not generally possible to restrict the rights of residents and apply legal sanctions before they have done anything illegal. The Virginia and US Constitution afford residents certain legal rights to due process. If the government can take rights away because a person is suspected of possibly committing a crime at a future, unspecified date then constitutional rights have essentially been shredded.

    Imagine the uproar if the government suspended the driving privileges for all 16 to 18-year old drivers because they fall into a group most likely to speed and drive recklessly? Or if the government suspended all drivers’ licenses for all drivers because it would prevent DUI deaths? That is essentially the same “logic” Ms. Wexton and the panel applied or at least alluded to.

    Mr. Chipman then launched into a sermon against “the good guy with a gun” myth. It seems that anyone with less training than Mr. Chipman just isn’t up to the task of defending themselves. This is the kind of self-appointed moral and intellectual superiority that oozes from condescending elitists and they are simply unable to recognize it in their own positions.

    In 2013, President Obama commissioned a study into the gun violence study. “The Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council released the results of their research through the CDC last month. Researchers compiled data from previous studies in order to guide future research on gun violence, noting that “almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year.””

    Additional research indicates the annual number of defensive uses of firearms is 2.7. The good guy with a gun is no myth and a CDC study proved it. The study was then buried by the CDC.

    We cannot count on the CDC or any government agency to not impose a political agenda on their work. We see that in the IRS and other recent examples of government “investigations.”

    Show me a “common sense gun law” that will work and I’ll be glad to consider it. So far, I haven’t heard a proposal from Ms. Wexton, The Brady Campaign or Giffords that will actually help.

  • 2019-06-25 at 3:41 pm

    “…We cannot count on the CDC or any government agency to not impose a political agenda on their work. We see that in the IRS and other recent examples of government “investigations.”

    Ha! I guess we can count on the NRA to not impose a political agenda? Gimme a break….

    • 2019-06-26 at 6:50 pm

      That you don’t recognize the ignorance of your statement is hilarious. Nothing biased or dubious or faulty with your “reason.”

  • 2019-06-26 at 11:47 am

    More people in Wexton’s district were killed by illegal aliens than by gun violence. She doesn’t care about protecting citizens, only about elections.

  • 2019-07-22 at 8:15 am

    During the “town hall” Mr. Chipman arrogantly disparaged the idea of armed citizens protecting themselves with firearms. His basic premise seemed to be, “no one with less training that ME could possibly deter a criminal!”

    I knew about a CDC-conducted study that demonstrated there were approximately 2.5 million defensive gun uses per year over a 3-year period in the late 1990s. However, I didn’t have the information or link during the “town hall” or when I posted immediately after the event. I have found that link proving how often citizens use firearms defensively.

    The CDC conducted a study, didn’t like the results since it didn’t fit their narrative and buried the study. Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck was conducting similar research more recently and discovered the CDC study which largely confirmed his own research. This is what led me to post about our inability to trust the CDC’s research and lack of political agenda.


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