By Karen Xu
The Board of Supervisors has narrowly passed a resolution recognizing June 4, 2021 as National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
“Gun violence is an epidemic in our nation and we must address it,” said Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian), who introduced the resolution. “While I have been proud of our work in Virginia and on this board to restrict firearms and put laws into place that allow law enforcement to remove firearms from unstable individuals, we are not even close to solving the issue.”
Supervisor Tony R. Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) opposed the resolution, saying he couldn’t support it as named.
“I’ve never seen a gun pick itself up, load itself, aim itself, shoot itself—if anything, this should be named national violent persons awareness day. It’s people that are violent,” Buffington said. “Guns are not violent in and of themselves. Guns are a tool violent people use sometimes to do violent things, things that are wrong, but they also use a lot of other things that are around. We can bring forward car violence awareness month resolutions, baseball bat violence awareness month resolutions, the list goes on and on but we don’t do that.”
He also cited the Rules of Order, a set of rules decided upon by the supervisors every January, which states that Board Resolutions should not be controversial.
“These resolutions are supposed to be non-controversial, and as we all know, whether we support this or don’t support this, a gun violence resolution is controversial,” said Buffington.
Briskman said she didn’t think a gun violence awareness resolution should be controversial.
“My son lost a classmate last year because he had access to a weapon and shot himself before anyone could get to his house,” Briskman said. “He had access to a weapon, and he’s now dead, and my son has lost a Boy Scout buddy and a classmate, and that would not have happened if he didn’t have access to a gun.”
The resolution passed 5-1-1-2 with Buffington opposed, Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) abstaining, and Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) and Supervisor Caleb A. Kershner (R-Catoctin) absent for the vote.
The resolution was handed to representatives from the group Moms Demand Action, a group dedicated to fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence.
“We know the first step to ending an epidemic of gun violence is recognizing that it exists,” said Elizabeth Coppage, head of Loudoun Moms Demand Action. “We wear orange on Friday not only to bring awareness to the epidemic of gun violence, but to honor those victims and survivors of gun violence.”
Gun Violence Awareness Day was also a topic of debate among county elected officials in 2020. Last year, Randall acknowledged that the gun violence resolution “doesn’t do anything,” and pledged that “within the next year, I’m actually going to find an honest-to-goodness way to address gun suicide, adding that “if next year I do not do anything, or I do not do anything that is effective, I won’t support this resolution next year, because a resolution without any action is just really moot.”