U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine on Friday joined Vice President Joe Biden, Representative Bobby Scott, mental health experts, and law enforcement officials from Virginia for a roundtable discussion to highlight strategies to reduce gun violence. The event at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond acted as a forum for Kaine and others to outline measures that were taken after the Virginia Tech tragedy to curb incidences of gun violence and mass shootings.
In remarks following the meeting, Kaine thanked Biden for coming to Virginia, calling it “a place where we have the scar tissue of tragedy, but also reasons to be hopeful” about reducing gun violence.
“Our experience in Virginia proves there are things we can do that work,” said Kaine. “We don’t have to despair about being able to reduce gun violence. The better background record check system you have, the safer you are. It’s a way of enforcing existing law and keeping guns out of the hands of people who aren’t lawfully allowed to have them.”
In 2007, then-Governor Tim Kaine worked with then-Attorney General Bob McDonnell to issue an Executive Order that improved Virginia’s background check system to ensure those who have been adjudicated mentally ill and dangerous were prohibited from purchasing guns. In addition, Kaine improved mental health services and reporting, increased funding for mental health services, strengthened standards for court ordered mental health care, bolstered accountability for agencies that provide mental health care, and provided more education for campus officials on how to spot mental health issues.
“This meeting was about the precise things we can do today, as well as the precise things we can focus on longer term that will work to reduce gun violence. I’m very happy the Vice President could be here with us today to learn more about the steps we’ve taken,” said Kaine.
Since his time as the Mayor of Richmond, Kaine has advocated a comprehensive approach to curbing gun violence that, in addition to mental health services and universal background checks, includes eliminating the gun show loophole and also requires limits on combat style weapons and super-size magazines.
Other attendees of the roundtable discussion included: Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole, Richard Bonnie, professor of Law & Medicine at the University of Virginia, Dr. Bela Sood, professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who served on the Virginia Tech Review Panel, Dr. Roger L. Depue, a 21-year FBI veteran who served on the Virginia Tech Review Panel, John Venuti, Chief of Police at Virginia Commonwealth University, Dr. Michael Rao, President of Virginia Commonwealth University, Chief of Petersburg Police John Dixon, and David M. Hicks from the City of Richmond.