State, national lawmakers must act on gun reforms

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

In the aftermath of the Virginia Beach gun massacre, Gov. Ralph Northam called the General Assembly into special session to consider commonsense gun safety initiatives. Although both chambers are controlled by Republicans, there was some hope that corrective actions would be considered, and some passed into laws. Among the Northam initiatives were a requirement for (1) universal background checks, (2) reinstatement of Virginia’s one handgun a month law, (3) a ban on assault-style firearms, and (4) preventing children from accessing firearms. These are the types of legislation being talked about in Washington since the El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, gun massacres that took, at last count, 31 lives. The special session was held, the Republican-controlled General Assembly met for 90 minutes and refused to even take a vote. All of the elective offices in the General Assembly will be decided in the upcoming election in November. If the Republicans again control the General Assembly, the public outcry for gun safety legislation will again be ignored.

To make matters worse, the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate refused to take a vote on initiatives similar to those that were blocked in Virginia. Polls show that the public overwhelmingly wants these initiatives enacted into law.

Kevin M. Raymond.

Woodbridge.

Assault weapons ban would cut gun violence

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Why do we need to have complicated arguments about gun laws? It is very clear that haters have carried out these mass shootings. There will always be haters, but there need not always be assault weapons. We can put an end to the horror of these mass killings by banning the guns of choice for mass shooters, guns designed for war, not hunting or personal safety. It’s not that complicated.

Jane Twitmyer.

Roseland.

Reader praises DVS

for assisting veterans

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Kudos for Monday’s editorial spotlighting the Department of Veterans Services’ work on behalf of Virginia’s veterans and active-duty service members. The men and women of DVS deserve our thanks for the programs they administer and assistance they provide. Our gratitude also goes to John Newby, who led the DVS from October 2014 to August 2019. As the leader of Altria’s employee veteran resource group, I worked with Newby on a number of projects to raise awareness of, and identify resources to address, the oftentimes unique legal needs of our active-duty and veteran population. As commissioner, Newby — an attorney and Air Force Academy graduate — selflessly devoted his time, energy and considerable talents on behalf of Virginia’s military and their families to address their legal needs as well as other needs. As you note, DVS is indeed doing a great job for our citizens and our state, thanks in no small part to the efforts of its employees and caring leaders like John Newby.

Michael Klein.

Richmond.

Navy Hill development would help city flourish

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

The proposed plan for Navy Hill is smart development. Read the proposal and you will see for yourself: This is no Sixth Street Marketplace or past failed deals that required city money. Navy Hill is a private investment to the benefit of the city. Taxpayers won’t pay for it.

My business is growing and I attribute that success to the growth in the Richmond area. Having a new arena that can attract concerts, sports and entertainment will help our region flourish and breathe new life into downtown. Why, as Richmonders (or myself as a parent of four young kids), should we have to drive to Charlottesville, Virginia Beach or Washington, D.C., to enjoy a show or sports event? We are a capital city, and capital cities have districts like Navy Hill.

A new neighborhood where, currently, there is nothing, can raise downtown property values and generate new cash to pay for schools, roads and other pressing needs in our city. This district also makes us even more attractive to new and relocating businesses, a future generation of workers, and people looking for places to live.

The bigger risk for us as a city is doing nothing and continuing, as Mayor Levar Stoney says, to kick the can down the road.

Geoffrey Usher.

North Chesterfield.

Why consult the NRA

on gun violence issue?

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

After the recent mass murders in Texas and Ohio, President Trump consulted with the National Rifle Association about what to do about the gun violence in America.

The NRA is not part of the federal government, so why did Trump contact them? The answer is they donated millions of dollars to his last campaign.

Deanna Nicosia. Bumpass.

Not standing for flag shows disrespect

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

It has become popular for some to disrespect the flag by electing not to stand and pledge allegiance, or not to stand with hand over heart during the national anthem. I know they mean well by attempting to raise awareness of some social or civil injustice. But the flag does not stand for the actions of people who fail to honor their allegiance to it. Their actions are theirs alone. The flag stands for the ideal, the goal to which we to aspire. Not standing up for the flag to show respect for it, shows disrespect for the ideal it represents. By standing and pledging allegiance to the flag you are protesting — protesting against the very things sitting down, turning away or making disrespectful signs or remarks is supposed to address. There are many things to protest in this country, and justice can only be served when we look to the flag and what it represents for guidance.

Paul K. Little.

Midlothian.

Make school bus drivers full-time employees

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

August arrives and students and parents prepare for the opening day of school. Again, unfortunately, most school divisions in the Richmond area do not have enough school bus drivers to serve their student population. Thus the divisions, as quickly as possible, seek to employ substitute drivers to meet their needs.

The criteria required to become a substitute school bus driver is minimal.

Children are placed on school buses driven by substitutes. Is this practice reasonable or safe?

The reasonable answer to remedy this is to establish the position of school bus driver as a full-time employee. This full-time status would provide the driver a reasonable salary, sick leave benefits, insurance benefits, uniforms — all the benefits of full-time employees.

The professional driver would be available for all after-school transportation needs, would be responsible for the cleanliness of the bus, would attend safety classes, and would be recognized as an important employee of the division.

Naturally, school divisions would cry “Can’t afford.” The alternative is to maintain the same old practice of vacancies, temporary “pickup” drivers, and the failure to maintain a bus schedule.

Parents must be assured that their children have safe and scheduled school bus transportation. Other states do incorporate this practice in providing safe and efficient school transportation.

James W. Jay.

Richmond.

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