Letter to my Delegate

I mentioned a couple of days ago that MY delegate was the swing vote that killed the bill that would have enabled Virginia Tech Students to carry lawful weapons on campus.

Her name is Paula Miller. I know that there has been a lot of talk about HB1572…that was actually the bill from the session before last. It was killed by the same committee with the same vote in 2006. The virtually identical bill that was killed in committee in 2007 was HB2300.

Now that I’ve clarified that, here’s the letter I sent to my delegate:

Ms. Miller,

Are you yet satisfied that college and university administrators have definitively demonstrated that they are not up to the task which they have arrogantly taken upon themselves?

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/V/VIRGINIA_TECH_SHOOTING?SITE=VANOV&SECTION=STATE

That task, of course, is assuming responsibility for the personal defense of each one of their students.

How many times must they demonstrate that they CANNOT protect their students from someone who, through criminal intent or psychosis, is determined to do them harm?

I must admit that I am VERY upset about this and the first draft of this letter was not nearly as…um…civil. As the father of a former Virginia Tech student and the father and father-in-law of two current students in Virginia universities, I am deeply disturbed by the callous disregard that Virginia college and university administrators have thus far displayed for their students and am equally disturbed by my elected representative’s complicity in the situation.

How many students must be injured or killed before the current status of college campuses as “target rich environments:” for criminals and the mentally unbalanced is alleviated?

I wonder, if HB2300…you know, the bill that would have allowed adult college students who have undergone the requisite background checks and training to obtain a Virginia Concealed Handgun permit to carry their defensive arms on campus…the one that came before your subcommittee…the one that you were the swing vote on…the one that I wrote to you about back in January…the one that you decided to kill…would you still vote the same way today?

Inquiring voters want to know.

She replied:

Mr. Stone:

Thank you for your email.
I am equally disturbed by the tragic events at Virginia Tech today.
I share your concern with campus security. But before we can assess blame for this situation we need to have a full investigation.

The facts are not in.
The only thing I want to do right now is to keep those students and families in my prayers.

Del. Paula Miller

P.S. That bill you refer to-HB 2300: The Republican Leadership decided on Feb. 6th not to bring the bill back for a vote.

The first part looks like a canned response. She didn’t even mention my point, it seemed to be addressing what she EXPECTED any letters she got to be addressing…poor campus security and assigning blame for it.

The P.S., however, was aimed directly at my point.

My response to her:

Ms. Miller,

Thank you for your response.

I absolutely agree that there are things that need to be investigated. For instance: Why was the campus not shut down after the first reported shooting? With the gunman still on the loose, why were the faculty and staff not notified about the danger and why was the campus not saturated with police officers searching for the killer? Where were those administrators who assure us that the forcibly disarmed students are safe and secure? It’s easy to mutter meaningless platitudes and issue empty assurances when it is not YOUR butt on the line and when you know that you will not be held accountable when your empty promises are demonstrated to have been just that.

The point, and the issue that you so deftly evaded is this: When are we going to recognize the fact that we CANNOT prevent evil people from performing evil deeds. That person was able to go from room to room, slaughtering innocents at his leisure with NO CONCERN that he would be opposed. No student or faculty member was capable of mounting any type of credible defense. WHY?

While watching the news coverage this morning I heard a common theme: one of the college students on the campus said something to the effect of “I didn’t think anything like this would ever happen here.”

How many mass killings have you heard about in this country over the past 20 years? Granted, it is a rare occurrence, but it does happen does it not? Even disregarding this particular type of incident, how many violent crimes are reported EACH and EVERY day on the news?

How many times in the past 20 years have you heard about a citizen licensed to carry a concealed weapon commit violent crimes? Once, twice maybe?

Yet, those of us who take the security of ourselves and our families seriously are considered “paranoid”. Tell me: who is more paranoid, the person who believes that law abiding citizens should have the means to defend themselves against incidents that occur every day, or the person who fears something that rarely, if ever, occurs…namely a law abiding, armed citizen spontaneously becoming a raving murderer?

Furthermore, where does this particular type of incident ALWAYS occur? In areas where carrying of defensive arms by private citizens is prohibited. Coincidence? I think not. How many of these types of incidents would have been prevented had the perpetrator believed that he might be resisted by armed citizens? How many would have been stopped after the first few casualties had someone…ANYONE been armed and prepared to resist?

Even in maximum security prisons, evil people somehow seem to be able to procure weapons. There is NO level of security that can EVER guarantee safety. Especially not on an open environment like a college campus. Have you ever visited Virginia Tech? My daughter attended there, I’ve been there many times. It is wide open. Please explain to me how that campus could ever be made impregnable to invasion by persons intent on terror and murder? It is ridiculous to even imagine that the students there are “safe and secure” as the administrators assure us.

I could go on and on about this; but someone once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Tell me, when are we going to end this insanity? Rendering law abiding citizens defenseless and trusting in fate, God and the goodwill of humanity to protect them is insanity. I can think of no other way to describe it.

As far as your deflection of responsibility for your vote. I agree that the Republicans in Richmond bear much responsibility for letting that bill die; but YOU are my delegate, not them. I cannot hold someone who does not represent me, and for whom I cannot and did not vote, responsible for their actions…I can only hold YOU responsible. I am not a single issue voter by any means, but believe me, I take this issue seriously because it directly impacts the safety and well being of two beloved family members who are placed in jeopardy every time they are required to go to school as defenseless as sheep.

Addressing your valid point about Republican cowardice: this issue is a controversial one and the Republican leadership would like nothing more each year than for it, and others like it, to just go away rather than being forced to go on record on it. Congratulations on being culpable in allowing them to avoid their responsibilities. Do you think it a coincidence that, in a majority Republican legislature, there are committees that are majority Democrat? Do you think it a coincidence that the most controversial bills…the ones that cowardly Republicans would like to avoid addressing on the record…end up on those committees’ dockets? How convenient for them that these controversial bills are killed in committee and they are not forced to go on record in reference to them. The bottom line is that they were allowed to skirt this issue because YOUR vote in committee allowed them to. Good job.

I’m going to end this now because my emotions are getting a bit heated again.

As angry as I am about this, I would like to say that I have nothing against you personally. I am sure that you were voting your conscience when you voted the way you did on HB 2300. I am convinced that you are a good person and I’m sure that you truly do have the best interests of your constituents and Virginia’s students at heart. I simply believe, at the most basic and fundamental levels of my being, that you are simply wrong about this. I urge you….I BEG you, to reconsider your position on this issue. Study the facts. Study the history. Check your emotions at the door. Forget the “conventional wisdom” that leads you to conclusions that the facts and the history DO NOT SUPPORT. Law abiding ADULT college students are no less deserving of their God given right to self defense than any other citizen of the state of Virginia.

She has, to date, declined to continue the conversation.

I can only say that the Republican Party in Virgina is incompetent beyond belief. In a state as conservative as this, they cannot consistently produce candidates at even the LOCAL level that are capable of running a credible campaign. We’ve had two consecutive Democrat Governors because the Republican candidates were utterly incompetent in running their campaigns. With that said, if the Republican (or Libertarian for that matter) party ever fields a candidate that isn’t an utter boor to run against Delegate Miller, I will vote for them in a heartbeat. Until that day, however, I’m stuck with the competent representative with whom’s positions I disagree on a regular basis. The Irony.

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