In remarks on the Senate floor today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine marked the eighth anniversary of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, highlighting the resilience of survivors and the entire Virginia Tech community, and challenging Congress to stand up against groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA) by taking action to reduce gun violence in America, including passage of comprehensive background check legislation. Kaine opened his remarks by reading the names of the 32 students, teachers and faculty killed on April 16, 2007. He also shared the stories of two inspiring survivors, Colin Goddard and Lily Habtu, who have become passionate advocates for stricter gun laws.
“As we commemorate the shooting at Virginia Tech honoring those we lost, honoring those brave survivors like Colin and Lily, who are using their experiences to help others, honoring the resilience of the entire Hokie nation, it is my hope that my colleagues will get serious about gun safety,” Kaine said. “I am a gun owner and a proud supporter of the Second Amendment. But the time is long overdue for a comprehensive background check system that keeps weapons out of the hands of dangerous people like Seung-Hui Cho.”
“Two years ago, as a Senator, on the very week when we were commemorating the anniversary of this most horrific shooting on a [college] campus in the history of the United States, in the shadows of the horrific shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, we tried to create a uniform background record check system at the federal level,” Kaine continued. “The same groups who fought against us in Virginia fought against background checks here.”
“Why is the NRA opposed to background record checks?” Kaine asked. “The NRA opposes background checks even though American gun owners and even NRA members have indicated strong support. … even though their avowed principles would suggest they would support such laws. For example, the NRA has been fond of saying, ‘we don’t need new gun laws, we just need to enforce existing laws.’ That is exactly what a background records check does.”
In closing, Kaine made the case that the NRA doesn’t represent American gun owners, but rather gun manufacturers, and that Congress is equally beholden to the gun industry whose first interest is “selling as many guns as you can to whomever you can, whenever you can and wherever you can.”
He went on to describe 2005 legislation passed by Congress and signed into law that restricts the ability of people to bring lawsuits against gun manufacturers in state or federal court for negligent use of firearms.
“This is a highly unusual shielding of an entire industry, the gun manufacturers, from state and federal claims based on negligence,” he argued.