Gun Issues Present Sharp Contrast at Senate Forum

Sep 21, 2018

More than a decade ago, Virginia Tech was the scene of a mass shooting. Now the issue of gun violence remains one of the hottest issues in Virginia politics. The candidates for Senate are divided on how to handle the issue.

Republican Corey Stewart says teachers should be able to carry concealed weapons. And when the moderator of a recent forum at Liberty University asked him about that approach, he blasted the idea of a gun free zone.

Hosts of Thursday's Senate forum prepare to introduce the candidates.
Credit Liberty University video

“Have you ever asked yourself why we use guns to protect our money," Stewart asked? "Have you ever seen a gun-free zone in front of a bank? Think of how ridiculous that is. So why is it any better that we are protecting our kids with signs?”

Incumbent Senator Tim Kaine was governor when the Virginia Tech massacre happened, and he says the painful lesson of that day was that a universal background check might have prevented the tragedy because the gunman had already been declared mentally ill and dangerous when he bought the weapon.

“If we’re unwilling to learn after suffering. If we’re unwilling to learn after we watch kids get gunned down in Newtown or people at a club in Florida or students in Parkland or concertgoers in Las Vegas — if we’re not willing to learn and do something then shame on us,” Kaine said.

The candidates are taking different lessons from all the gun violence and mass shootings, though. Kaine’s solution is universal background checks. Stewart’s solution is getting rid of gun free zones.

Click here to watch the full Senate forum from Liberty University

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.