The gun violence epidemic has been impacting communities all across the country, but the mass shooting in Virginia Beach has given too many Virginians a reminder of how it can unfortunately impact us right here in our home state. It therefore isn’t surprising that it’s become a frequent topic of discussion in state and local elections.
At the many forums I’ve been attending across Northern Virginia, there are always many concerned citizens in attendance wearing their red Moms Demand Action shirts. They’re great at respectfully engaging the candidates to hear their vision for how to address the gun violence issue and that was the case at last night’s forum for local candidates in Fairfax County’s Providence district.
The discussion isn’t just about the assault rifle bans or universal background checks (both of which are important), but candidates are being asked about topics beyond the issues that are being discussed in the national debate. The school board candidates, for instance, were asked last night about lock down drills and the impact those have on students. But the real interesting part of the forum came when the Board of Supervisors candidates were asked about including commonsense reforms in the legislative agenda that they present to the General Assembly.
Eric Jones, who stressed that he prefers to go by Eric Anthony Jones, somehow managed to turn a question about gun violence and turn it into a rant against transgender people. After saying he doesn’t get why people don’t like the lock down drills in schools because he had to go through them when he was in embassies overseas, Jones pivoted over to say he was passionate about protecting “religious freedoms.” He then joined many of his fellow conservative school board candidates who try to act as if working to end discrimination against the transgender community would harm teenage girls.
“I also am strongly in supporting the integrity and the fairness of girls competitive sports,” Jones said in a statement that suggests he doesn’t understand that high school sports are actually regulated at the state level in Virginia by the VHSL. But he didn’t stop there as he added that he’s passionate about “protecting traditional protections in for the modesty, public modesty, of females.”
Unlike Jones, Dalia was able to remain focused on the gun violence issue during her answer and didn’t veer off into a statement about a completely unrelated topic. She highlighted how she worries “our state is becoming a sanctuary for these guns” and mentioned how the Providence district is actually home to the NRA. She then rightfully said that we want to protect our students, but turning our schools into fortresses is not the way to do it. She comes from this as someone who was a teacher when the Sandy Hook shooting happened.
“I was teaching in the classroom when Sandy Hook happened,” Dalia said. “I could not believe the next day, the next year, the year after that, we still had not fixed the problem.”
While she said the Board of Supervisors is limited in the steps it can take on the issue, she strongly supports adding reasonable measures to address the gun violence epidemic in the legislative agenda the board presents to the General Assembly.