Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: Students, Families of Victims, Survivors of Gun Violence, and Advocates Mark the 6-Year Anniversary of the Virginia Tech Massacre by Demanding Congressional Action in Washington and Eight States
Press Release

RELEASE: Students, Families of Victims, Survivors of Gun Violence, and Advocates Mark the 6-Year Anniversary of the Virginia Tech Massacre by Demanding Congressional Action in Washington and Eight States

Press Contacts

  • Katie Peters

Washington, D.C. — From the steps outside the U.S. Capitol Building to college campuses across the country, families of victims, survivors of gun violence, university students, and gun-violence-prevention advocates stood together today to memorialize the lives tragically lost exactly six years ago at Virginia Tech and to call on Congress to take immediate action on gun-law reform.

Families and friends of those killed and injured six years ago at Virginia Tech stood this morning outside the U.S. Capitol with families of the victims and survivors of the Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown massacres at the #NoMoreNames vigil to remember those tragically murdered and to demand congressional action on gun legislation. At 9:38 a.m. ET, the exact moment the shooting began, a moment of silence took place to honor the lives lost.

Among the family members and victims in attendance were Lori Haas, whose daughter Emily was shot at Virginia Tech; Peter Read, father of Mary Karen Read, who was shot and killed at Virginia Tech; Colin Goddard, who was shot multiple times at Virginia Tech; and Omar Samaha, brother of Reema Samaha, who was shot and killed at Virginia Tech.

“As a former law enforcement officer, I have seen first-hand the devastation that gun violence causes in our communities,” said Col. W. Gerald Massengill, a retired Virginia State Police superintendent and head of the eight-person Virginia Tech Review Panel that investigated the 2007 shooting. “After investigating Virginia Tech, one of our panel’s key recommendations was for the expansion of the background check system to cover every gun sales.  The legislation offered by Senators Manchin and Toomey takes a big step in that direction. It will heighten and augment the present background  check requirements, which since their inception in the early 1990’s have denied nearly two million gun purchases to felons, mentally ill and other persons  ineligible to buy and possess a firearm under present laws. Such a measure is a commonsense tool directed solely at public safety and allows law enforcement to do a better job keeping our nation’s families and communities safe.”

As the families of those affected by gun violence stood together in Washington, D.C., events on 10 campuses in 8 states today are providing students with the opportunity to participate in youth-driven discussions about the need for gun-violence prevention. The events are organized by Campus Progress, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and are being held in Maine, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Louisiana, Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina, and Georgia.

According to a new public-opinion survey released today, young Americans share the views of all Americans in supporting tougher legislation to reduce gun violence. The new survey also reveals young voters’ particular perspective on gun culture, classrooms, and college campuses. Commissioned by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Campus Progress Action, and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, key findings from the survey reveal:

  • More than 9 in 10 young Americans support criminal background checks. Young voters join the vast majority of Americans who support criminal background checks for anyone who wants to buy a firearm. Ninety-two percent of voters under 30 and 86 percent of voters 30 and over support this proposal.
  • Millennials oppose guns on college campuses and in classrooms. By a 64 percent to 31 percent margin, younger voters do not think that teachers in public school classrooms should be allowed to carry firearms—58 percent to 36 percent of voters 30 and over agree with this. But they are even more adamant that they don’t want to be on college campuses where students are carrying firearms. Just 19 percent of voters under 30 said they would feel safer on a college campus where students were allowed to carry firearms. An overwhelming 75 percent said that it would make them feel less safe, and voters 30 and over share this attitude.
  • Younger voters are more likely to see gun culture as out of control. Seventy percent of registered voters under the age of 30 agree with the statement that “After the mass killings at colleges, high schools, movie theaters, and now elementary schools, the gun culture in our society has gotten out of control.” Among voters 30 and above, 59 percent agreed.
  • Younger Americans feel safer in communities with fewer guns. A majority of young Americans—52 percent—say that they feel safer in communities with fewer guns than they do in communities with more guns. Just 32 percent say more guns make them feel safer. Older Americans also feel safer around fewer guns, but by a more narrow margin of 46 percent to 38 percent.
  • Younger voters trust police chiefs, ER docs, and also President Obama. Voters under the age of 30 see police chiefs and emergency-room doctors as the most trustworthy messengers on the issue of gun violence. Eighty-three percent say they trust ER doctors either ‘a lot’ or ‘somewhat,’ and 84 percent say the same thing about police chiefs. Mayors are also a trusted source for young voters—67 percent—as is President Obama. Overall, 56 percent of Americans say they trust the President on this issue, but that number rises to 66 percent with voters under 30 years old.

Read a memo outlining key findings from the public-opinion survey.
Read the top-lines from the public-opinion survey.

To learn more about these actions, contact Katie Peters at kpeters@americanprogressaction.org or 202.741.6284.

*****

Background information on the #NoMoreNames vigil:

The #NoMoreNames campaign originated last Wednesday, April 10, when families of victims and survivors of gun violence gathered to read the names of the men, women, and children who have been killed by guns since the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, last December. In total, 10,076 names were read continuously for 32 hours and 40 minutes. The name reading resumed on Monday, April 15, when the Senate returned from recess and will continue around the clock in the weeks to come until a vote on gun legislation.

The continuous name reading will pause Tuesday during the moment of silence and then resumed and continue until the Senate votes on comprehensive gun-violence prevention. Tuesday’s #NoMoreNames readings are focusing on the tragic number of young people who fall victim to gun violence every year by reading only the names of individuals under the age of 30 who have been shot and killed since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

The around-the-clock vigil is taking place outside the U.S. Capitol at the House Triangle. Visit www.NoMoreNames or follow #NoMoreNames on Twitter to learn more.

For more information, please contact Katie Peters at kpeters@americanprogressaction.org or 202.741.6285.

###