A gunman shot and killed 12 people on Friday at a government building in Virginia Beach, Virginia. But the city’s Republican mayor dismissed proposals to prevent future mass shootings as a “knee-jerk reaction,” in an interview on Monday.
Republican Bobby Dyer, a former government professor at televangelist Pat Robertson’s Regent University, was elected mayor of Virginia’s largest city last November. Pressed by MSNBC about the fact that guns are legal in local government buildings in the state, Dyer echoed the National Rifle Association’s boilerplate don’t-do-anything-after-a-tragedy refrain.
“I tell you what, right now this is a very recent thing,” Dyer observed, “and I think we just got to be careful that we just don’t have a knee-jerk reaction where we wind up galvanizing all, with the talk.”
Instead he suggested that at some point in the future, Americans should “all sit down, as a society” and “have a rational conversation on this topic….It’s obviously that something has got to be done in some way. But that’s going to be determined.”
Reminded that New Zealand took immediate major steps to stop gun violence, after dozens were killed at mosque shootings last March in Christchurch, the mayor again dismissed calls for immediate action as inappropriate.
“I think the topic of what to do about with the guns and everything at this point, we will have discussions on that,” Dyer said. “But right now our focus as a city is — you know, with the families and things of that nature. But obviously this is going to prompt a national discussion and we will be engaged in those discussions.”
While Virginia’s state legislature does not permit local governments to enact much gun legislation without its permission, Dyer has donated thousands of dollars over the years to Republican lawmakers and gubernatorial candidates who have blocked efforts to strengthen Virginia’s weak gun laws and those who successfully repealed its one-gun-a-month purchase limit.
While Dyer is correct that the Virginia Beach shooting was just a few days ago and the grief is no doubt fresh, similar excuses have been given by opponents of gun legislation for decades.
After the mass shootings in Columbine in 1999, at Virginia Tech in 2007, at Sandy Hook in 2012, at Pulse night club in 2016, in Las Vegas in 2017, at Parkland in 2018, and thousands of other places across the United States, any attempt to toughen the nation’s lax federal gun laws — even to require a universal criminal background check for all gun purchases — have been dismissed as attempts to politicize tragedy.