Howe presents on weapons safety

Published 3:05 pm Thursday, August 23, 2018

Frank Howe, a representative of the newly-formed organization based in Buckingham, Buckingham Citizens for a Safe Society, gave a presentation to the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors during its meeting Aug. 13.

During the presentation, Howe spoke about the necessity of placing regulations on assault weapons and clearing misconceptions about bans of weapons used for hunting or other outdoor sports.

Howe, during the May board of supervisors meeting, made a request during the public comment period to the board about passing a resolution asking the Virginia General Assembly to place regulations on weapons and ban the private purchase and sale of assault weapons.

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The request to make the motion was not put on the board agenda following a discussion by members of the board.

Requests similar to the one Howe Made in May, County Administrator Rebecca Carter said in an earlier interview, are citizens requests, which would also need the board’s approval to be added to the agenda. However, Carter said unless citizens represent an organization, she would not have authority to place the item on the agenda.

Two members of the public, Marie Flowers and John Sykes, spoke in favor of the Buckingham Citizens for a Safe Society and its request for the board to take action on weapons regulation.

Howe, during the presentation, clarified that the purpose of the request was not to ban hunting or other traditional and reasonable uses to own guns.

He said his concern was for weapons that can create a large amount of damage in a short period of time, such as semi-automatic, centerfire or firearms equipped with a folding stock.

He said current Virginia legislation includes background checks for individuals purchasing firearms from licensed dealers, though there is no background check required for private sales.

Howe said individuals subject to final domestic violence restraining or protective orders are prohibited from possessing firearms, and following the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, have additional regulations for firearm purchase for those with mental illness.

Countering an argument often made in opposition to weapon regulation that people are the catalyst for mass shootings instead of weapons, Howe cited a statistic from a study published the National Center for Biotechnology Information that cited that the United States of America represents 5 percent of the earth’s population, but accounts for 31 percent of all mass shootings.”

District Two Supervisor and Vice Chairman Donnie Bryan asked Howe about multiple killings as a result of stabbings, or the Boston marathon bombing in 2013, which did not use gun or semi-automatic weapons.

“I share your concern with the people that are mentally ill,” Bryan said. “What do we do? Outlawing guns isn’t going to do it.”

Howe said that while bombs are an illegal item, semi-automatic weapons are not, and knives do not have the potential to kill or injure the amount of people at such a short amount of time as guns can.

He cited statistics tracking the number of mass shootings between 1988 and 2018 that show a jump from 7 killed and 4 wounded as a result of mass shootings in 1988 to 310 killed and 1020 injured in 2018 so far.

He noted a period between 1994 and 2004 where there was a federal ban on selling assault weapons.

The majority of the 44 people killed and 54 wounded in 1999 were the result of the Columbine High School mass shooting.

“We are asking that you, the Buckingham Board of Supervisors, consider and adopt this resolution,” Howe said.

The board did not take action as a result of the presentation.

District One Supervisor Robert “Bobby” Jones said in a phone interview Monday he was unsure whether the board would make a motion about weapon regulation during a future board of supervisors meeting or not.

“I thought the personnel who put it on gave a real good presentation,” Jones said.

District Six Supervisor Joe Chambers said, similar to a statement in June, that he considers concerns from constituents from the 6th District. He said as of Monday, no one from the district has addressed the issue presented by Howe.

“Not one person has addressed the issue yet,” Chambers said. “I have to wait for my constituents.”