by Shaun Kenney

Do you ever sit around and wish that a public figure would actually stand up and call out a problem for what it is? Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears is out there doing just that when it comes to Richmond’s rising tide of violence.

Virginia Democrats have responded to last week’s tragedy at Monroe Park, which killed 2 and wounded 17, with the usual tropes. Blame guns — which if one believes other leftist tropes about fearful gun owners clinging to their firearms and Bibles, you might wonder why all of rural Virginia isn’t some dystopian hell scape.

Instead, the dystopian hell scape seems to be centered in polities where Democrats are imposing their own utopian visions of a safe and secure society only to discover their policies are delivering neither safety nor security.

Predictably — worse than predictable, boring — the editorial boards of Virginia newspapers such as The Virginian-Pilot have decided to target LT. Gov. Sears for daring to demand answers:

“This is not about law-abiding gun owners,” [Sears] said. “This is about gangs. This is about … the others who mean harm, who mean to kill and [maim].… Who is in charge? Is that the mayor? Is that the chief? Let’s start naming names.”

Agreed. We should be naming names of who’s responsible for allowing unfettered access to high-powered weapons, who resist any attempt to enact reasonable restrictions on purchases, and who wouldn’t even listen to proposals earlier this year to require that firearms be locked up in homes with children.

Or maybe we should listen to the Virginia State Police, who recently released their 2022 Crime in Virginia Report:

• Murder is up 10 percent;
• Kidnapping is up 9 percent;
• Human trafficking offenses are up 17 percent;
• Weapons offenses are up 6 percent;
• Simple and aggravated assaults are up by 6 and 4 percent, respectively.

All in the past three years after Virginia Democrats slackened the law to let more felons out of prison, reduce sentences, and make it harder for police to do their jobs. Weird, right?

Meanwhile, the temerity of The Virginian-Pilot to scold the lieutenant governor on the impact of lawlessness in black communities? Again — back to the State Police report, where the victims of murder and other violent crime were disproportionately black.

Need more depth? More than 76 percent of the victims of murder or non-negligent manslaughter in 2022 were black, with only 23 percent white. Some 47 percent of violent crime victims were black, while only 18 percent of Virginians are black.

Now I’m just spit-balling here. Something tells me that Winsome Earle-Sears has a bit more authenticity and sincerity when talking about the impact of crime and lawlessness in black communities than the well-heeled liberals of The Virginian-Pilot.

The Virginian-Pilot: Victims of a Public School Education (And It Shows)

Of course, that’s Virginia Democrats for you, with the twin evils of condescension and rank paternalism dripping from their pens toward anyone who strays:

The nation is awash with firearms. The approximately 334 million Americans own nearly 400 million guns, more than any country on Earth, which includes about 60 million purchased during the pandemic.

So easy are they to get that children, with alarming frequency, bring them to school, such as in January when a first-grader shot his teacher in Newport News. So pervasive are they that people routinely attempt to bring them on airplanes. The Transportation Security Administration found 6,542 firearms at 262 different airports last year, a new record.

So, in a nation of 331 million people with 400 million firearms, the number this writer — whose public school education clearly failed him — trots out is 6,542 incidents at 262 airports?

The number is 0.0000197643504532 percent.


Firearms are the leading cause of death for Americans aged 1-19.

When considering all children, ages 0-17, the correct information from the CDC is as follows:

• Congenital abnormalities: 4,860
• Short Gestation: 3,141
• Motor Vehicles: 2,462
• Firearms: 2,281

So why did The Virginian-Pilot feel the need to include adult 18-19 year olds?

Oh, that’s right…

In 2021, nearly 48,000 people in this country died as a result of a homicide or suicide by firearm. The United States has recorded more than 275 mass shootings this year and it’s not even the midway point in 2023.

The top 10 leading causes of death in the United States according to the CDC?

• Heart disease: 695,547
• Cancer: 605,213
• COVID-19: 416,893
• Accidents (unintentional injuries): 224,935
• Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 162,890
• Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 142,342
• Alzheimer’s disease: 119,399
• Diabetes: 103,294
• Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis : 56,585
• Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 54,358

Ban donuts.

Let’s talk about mass shooting incidents, which have been relatively stable since the 1970s when you account for population growth. The recent uptick correlates with the movement by progressives to defund the police in the wake of the 2020 Summer of Love BLM/Antifa riots.

In other words, Winsome Sears is right. Again.

Yet when a shooting happens, Republicans trot out the same tired arguments.

Yet once again, the evidence in the face of two misguided policy agendas — disarming the public and then leaving them to the tender mercies of gang-related violence — is staggering so as to be invincible. Tired arguments? Most certainly, but invincible, nonetheless.

Just to drive a stake into the heart of this political vampire once and for all, let’s take a look at deaths by firearms in the United States. From Pew Research:

What share of U.S. gun deaths are murders and what share are suicides?

Though they tend to get less public attention than gun-related murders, suicides have long accounted for the majority of U.S. gun deaths. In 2021, 54% of all gun-related deaths in the U.S. were suicides (26,328), while 43% were murders (20,958), according to the CDC. The remaining gun deaths that year were accidental (549), involved law enforcement (537) or had undetermined circumstances (458).

What share of all murders and suicides in the U.S. involve a gun?

About eight-in-ten U.S. murders in 2021 – 20,958 out of 26,031, or 81% – involved a firearm. That marked the highest percentage since at least 1968, the earliest year for which the CDC has online records. More than half of all suicides in 2021 – 26,328 out of 48,183, or 55% – also involved a gun, the highest percentage since 2001.

Our actual number here? 20,958 deaths due to violent crime involving a firearm. Diabetes? 103,294. Automobile fatalities? 38,824 in 2020 according to the US government.

The plain facts — tired as we are of trotting them out — speak for themselves. Disarming law-abiding citizens doesn’t fix violent crime by one iota. In fact, by their own admission, it is making Virginia communities less safe. Either we trust one another with our inherent rights as Virginians — or we don’t.

Virginia Democrats Made Virginia Safer for Violence and More Violent for Families

The problem isn’t the Second Amendment any more than it’s the First Amendment. Violent crimes are indeed up, but not because of the prevalence of firearms any more than hate speech is up (and sadly, it is up) because of the presence of books. That’s silly talk.

So, what changed? 2022 was the first full calendar year where Virginian began to feel the full effect of so-called Democratic policing reforms. Now we can see the impact — and it’s clear that these policies are hurting the very communities they were meant to help.

Even progressive localities such as Roanoke are begging the Virginia General Assembly to roll back the policies championed by the progressive left, for the precise reason that they do not work, they make violence more likely, and make families and communities less safe.

Winsome Sears is right.

No one wants violence in our communities, but treating symptoms without addressing cures gives us neither safety nor security.

The first maxim held sacred by every free people, so the saying goes, is to observe the laws. Virginia’s progressives set down that charge, and as a result are discovering that a lawless violence is a far more cruel master than the presupposed injustices of our American legal system.

Meanwhile, common-sense Virginians of every stripe should be both unafraid and objectively cool to any argument seeking to strip ourselves and our citizens of our inherent rights — whether that is self-defense or free expression. If one doubts the link between our 1A and 2A rights, I submit the authority of those who have deeply thought on the question and determined otherwise:

It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity. But is uniformity of opinion desirable? No more than of face and stature. Introduce the bed of Procrustes then, and as there is danger that the large men may beat the small, make us all of a size, by lopping the former and stretching the latter.

What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth. Rather than use the heavy hand of government to correct what the heavy hand of government broke, may I suggest an alternative?


Freedom — and a little bit more trust in our neighbors to exercise our rights without tolerating either the tyranny of those who know better or the license of those who abuse their rights (the Latin ab- meaning “away” and the Latin usare meaning “exercised toward its proper purpose” with the word ab-use literally meaning to use an object for an improper purpose).

Enough panic. Let’s focus on Richmond and ask why the slackening of law enforcement has caused the uptick of violence, and then commit ourselves to the solution that works: respect for the laws. Maybe then we can start addressing the other questions of poverty, the failure of public education, and the lack of accountability which Sears emphasized so brilliantly last week.

Until Senate Democrats are willing to have that discussion in the public discourse? There is only one remaining avenue to have that conversation, and November cannot come fast enough.

Shaun Kenney is the editor of The Republican Standard, former chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Fluvanna County, and a former executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia.

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40 responses to “The Problem Isn’t Guns, It’s Richmond”

  1. f/k/a_tmtfairfax Avatar

    I watched Discovery Channel’s Body Cam show last night. It features police interactions with people filmed by dash cameras and body cameras. One of the stories involved a man attempting to hijack a car from a woman, whose two children were in the back seat, from an elementary school parking lot. The guy was a convicted felon with multiple arrests for possession of a firearm over the last few years. Yet, he seemed to have received very short sentences and/probation, rather than a more significant sentence based on the crime. The program showed the failure of the criminal justice system to enforce laws on the books.

    While this is just an anecdote, how many other felons are given slaps on the wrist for multiple arrests for unlawful possession of a firearm?

    And, of course, we have the example of the non-use of Virginia’s Red Flag law at UVA.

    It’s too bad we no longer have journalism in the U.S. What would in-depth reporting 0f how our gun laws are enforced or not.

  2. Wow – there you go with all that Euro-centric factual analysis stuff again.

    The best stupid argument is when the Dems [see VP Cackle] hollers that the AR-15 type semi-automatic rifle is nothing more than a weapon of war [no nation equips its soldiers with semi-automatic rifles/carbines] designed to kill lots of people really, really fast….. LAUGHABLE.

    One question which destroys that point — Why then does almost every police car have one?

    1. VaNavVet Avatar

      Obviously to match the weapons of the criminals.

      1. Really – can you list six instances where a criminal used a semi-auto rifle/carbine in the commission of a crime in VA?

        1. VaNavVet Avatar

          No need to as it is well documented that police departments across the country have had to upgrade their armaments to avoid be outgunned by the criminals.

          1. Lefty665 Avatar

            That was when they got pistols to replace their revolvers. That was well documented around a half century ago.

          2. WayneS Avatar

            Please post some “well documented” hyperbole-free evidence that “police departments across the country have had to upgrade their armaments to avoid be outgunned by the criminals”.

            The fact is, police seldom face a criminal with an AR-15.

            Handguns are used in the overwhelming majority of crimes committed by persons with firearms.

          3. VaNavVet Avatar

            Except for the almost daily mass shootings!

      2. WayneS Avatar

        That is not at all obvious.

    2. WayneS Avatar

      Also, the AR-15 was sold as a civilian semi-automatic sporting rifle starting in 1963.

      The select-fire version, the M16A1, was adopted as the primary infantry weapon for the U.S. military in 1967.

      The AR-15 is not a “military-style” weapon, the M-16 and its variants are “civilian-style” weapons.

  3. VaNavVet Avatar

    It would be nice to see Sears actually do something about gangs and the other problems she identified. Criminals do not respect the laws!

    1. Lefty665 Avatar

      As the first line of defense Mayor Stoney and the city of Richmond have an obligation to “actually do something” besides yammer about crime.

      See the quote from the Mayor’s office in my other comment rejecting a “law-enforcement based approach to gun violence prevention,”

      1. VaNavVet Avatar

        Seems like all politicians do is yammer!

        1. Lefty665 Avatar

          It’s an occupational hazard for most of them. Refreshingly, the Lt. Gov seems a straight shooter.

  4. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    No. The problem is guns.

    1. ….and doughnuts – don’t forget all those deaths from bad, unhealthy food.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Right! Doughnuts. And guns. Cops on a sugar high. Very dangerous.

      2. Lefty665 Avatar

        Doughnuts may kill more cops than guns.

        Odd fact, more cops are injured each year from accidental firing of their own guns than from hostile shooting.

    2. Nathan Avatar

      “No. The problem is guns.”

      Your perception. Not reality.

      The Defund the Police movement and recent uncontrolled rioting has not only confirmed the need for armed self defense among existing gun owners, it has swelled the ranks to include more women and minorities.

    3. WayneS Avatar

      No inanimate object has ever been “the problem”.

      “The problem” is always misuse of inanimate objects by people.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Which is why you take the object away from people, or control it very, very well. Try anyway.

        1. WayneS Avatar

          Unless possession of the inanimate object is a basic right. Then you need to be careful that you only take the inanimate object away from criminals and others who have forfeited that right.

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            No right is immutable, not one.

            No matter how many times DJT says, “I have an absolute right.”

            So, if it takes altering the right, then that shall be done.

          2. WayneS Avatar

            That depends on how immutable your definition of immutable is.

            The rights guaranteed under our constitution are immutable unless we are convicted of a crime for which the punishment includes forfeiting one or more of those rights. Or unless the constitution is legally amended to alter or remove protection for one or more of those rights.

          3. You have the right to free speech. You can be punished if you abuse it, but there are no preconditions to the right. There’s no test you have to take to get it. It’s yours at birth. Rights are not permissions or licenses, which have qualifications to obtain. The government does not issue them.

          4. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Tell SCOTUS. Reference reproduction when you do.

          5. Proving my point – thank you. No one has to get a permit to buy a copier – they are punished if they misuse it.

          6. Lefty665 Avatar

            Perhaps you would be happier in California (aka lalaland) with Newsom and his 28th Amendment.

          7. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Sure would. Except for the wildfires, earthquakes, torrential rains and snow, floods, uh,… where was I? Monterey is nice.

          8. Lefty665 Avatar

            I ask my inlaws what they expect next, locusts is about all they’ve missed so far.

            Monterey is very nice, and language diverse.

          9. WayneS Avatar

            That depends on how immutable your definition of immutable is.

            The rights guaranteed under our constitution are immutable unless we are convicted of a crime for which the punishment includes forfeiting one or more of those rights. Or unless the constitution is legally amended to alter or remove protection for one or more of those rights.

        2. WayneS Avatar

          Specifically regarding laws which restrict access to guns, it has never been more difficult, nor the process more onerous, to legally obtain a firearm in this country than it is right now.

          If guns were the problem we should have had far more mass shootings in this country in, say, 1959 than we do in a given year now. In 1959 in most places, guns could be purchased in hardware stores or by mail order, with no background check of any kind.

          It is our culture, our values, and our people that have changed since those days, not guns.

  5. Lefty665 Avatar

    The kid in the Richmond graduation shooting has been charged with 2nd degree murder, but no charges for using a firearm in the commission of a felony. Also, no reports on where he got the gun. That was a crime too.

    From the Mayor’s office before the graduation shooting:

    “We appreciate the group’s work and interest, but disagree with their advocacy for a law-enforcement based approach to gun violence prevention,” wrote the mayor’s press secretary, Jim Nolan. “We are focused on evidence-based programs that are more community-focused, and reflect a human services and public health approach, such as the $500,000 grant we recently received from the state department of criminal justice services.”

    That has not worked very well so far. The Lt. Gov. is onto something. Seems she has got it right.

  6. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    The problem isn’t “Richmond” either. Everybody knows who is shooting people. Young males, mostly big time economic losers. There are guys in the drugs/rapper/gangbanger culture mostly shooting each other and too many random bystanders. Then there is the loner/angry/gamer who is so mentally ill and bitter he thinks it worthwhile to kill coworkers or some other soft target. I include in this group the racially or hate motivated attacks, but the person involved usually still fits that loner/angry loser profile as well. These folks are also in a gang of sorts but it an online community of similar losers (yes, today’s Nazi’s fit that description, a gang of angry online losers looking for a scapegoat for their misery.)

    Knowing they are out there, knowing the music and gaming and entertainment industry is inciting them, knowing the police usually cannot stop them (cops were all over that graduation site last week), the rest of America is keeping their guns and you will die trying to disarm them. You can win an election with this nonsense, but the guns aren’t going anywhere.

    1. WayneS Avatar

      I agree with everything you said, with a single caveat regarding one of the causes of the violence we are seeing among our young people.

      When a responsible parent or guardian is available to provide reality-based balance to mitigate the incitement by the entertainment industry, neither music nor video games will warp a young person enough to do the awful things the losers you mention do.

      In my opinion, it is unsupervised and unmonitored access to these things by children and adolescents which leads to trouble.

      While he was growing up, my wife and I allowed our son to play video games with increasing levels of violence (and other potentially objectionable material) as he grew older and more mature. We regularly had frank discussions about the content of the games he was playing, about what is real and what is fantasy, and what is good and what is bad. By the time he was about 14 or 15, we stopped monitoring the specific content of the games he played, but the frank discussions about morals continued.

      He is now a well-adjusted 21-year-old who is one of the kindest and friendliest people I know.

      1. Stephen Haner Avatar
        Stephen Haner

        I don’t disagree. Our solution at one point was the Gameboy “broke” and we never got around to fixing it… 🙂 These tragic young men usually are coming out of a problem home environment, although plenty of single parents do succeed is raising kids well.

        Brings up another issue, this one unique to our times, and that is the attraction too many young thugs find to putting their behavior out on social media. Creating the media buzz seems to be the real goal sometimes. Fits both of my categories above as the mass shooters love to stream their mayhem often.

  7. The left is so worried about the death of innocent people that they are willing to kill other innocent people to take their guns away.
    That’s true virtue signalling.

    1. WayneS Avatar

      One of the “progressive” anti-gun strategies is to demonize everyone who owns a gun. Their goal is to have law-abiding gun owners viewed as “evil” by their fellow citizens. Then, when the “progressives” have complete control of our government, they will be able to imprison us (or worse) while maintaining the fiction that they are doing it to save innocent lives.

      1. For the democrats it’s not a new technique. They invented it with Jim Crow and the Nazis refined it with the Jewish Laws. Now they are using it against gun owners, Christians, etc. Democrats never stray far from their bigoted roots, and will use any means to attain their goals.

  8. The left is so worried about the death of innocent people that they are willing to kill other innocent people to take their guns away.
    That’s true virtue signalling.

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