This week, we have been shattered once again by the unspeakable tragedy at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. I will share my thoughts on the gun violence that haunts us, highlight upcoming events, and share some of my recent engagements in the District. Thank you for taking the time to read the newsletter and for staying informed.
Gun Violence in Our Schools
Frankly, I have no words left to express the unbearable sorrow we experience repeatedly in the face of mass murders. The murders at Robb Elementary School come so quickly on the heels of the tragedy of Buffalo, New York. But whether these horrific shootings come days or years apart, they are always too soon because no community should experience these levels of violence to begin with.
Regardless, this is not the time for words. It is the time for action. It is the time for the federal government and our leaders in Congress to take steps to prevent future mass murders of innocents in our schools, grocery stores, shopping malls, houses of worship, concerts, and anywhere else that should be safe for children and families.
I thank our Virginia Senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, for their outspoken leadership on the issues of gun violence. Both of our Senators have called for Congress to act immediately on the Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence Act. This proposed federal legislation replicates what Virginia’s General Assembly was able to achieve successfully in our 2020 and 2021 Sessions:
Universal Background Checks: Closes loopholes in existing federal law by requiring background checks on all firearm sales and transfers, with exemptions for certain family members, law enforcement officers, servicemembers, hunting, target shooting, and self-defense.
One-Handgun-a-Month: Limits purchases of handguns to one per month to curtail the stockpiling and trafficking of firearms.
Reporting of Lost or Stolen Firearms: Requires gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms to the appropriate state or local law enforcement agency within 48 hours. State and local law enforcement agencies would be directed to report data collected to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center.
Preventing Firearm Access to Minors: Promotes responsible gun ownership and safe storage practices by holding individuals liable for leaving a loaded, unsecured gun in the presence of a minor.
Protection Order Prohibitions: Strengthens safeguards for victims of domestic violence by closing the “boyfriend loophole,” which currently allows abusive non-spousal partners to possess firearms, and expands firearms laws to prohibit persons convicted of dating violence or stalking from possessing firearms.
Extreme Risk Protection Orders: Establishes a federal extreme risk protection order process to temporarily remove firearms from individuals who pose a high risk of harming themselves or others and incentivizes states to implement their own extreme risk protection laws and court protocols.
I hope that you will join me in urging other members of Congress to support the Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence Act.
Reproductive Justice Town Hall
On Tuesday, May 31, I will host a town hall focused on reproductive justice. Special guests Senator Jennifer McClellan, Kenda Sutton-El of Birth In Color RVA, Dora Muhammad of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, Stephanie Spencer of Urban Baby Beginnings, and Paulette McElwain of the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood will be joining me for this discussion.
The draft opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States confirms what we long feared: safe and legal access to abortion is imperiled all across the country. Join us as we discuss what the draft opinion means for Virginia, and as we especially focus on issues of reproductive justice for minority communities in the Commonwealth. Registration for the town hall is here. We look forward to having you participate in this important discussion.
Memorial Day Commemorations
This Memorial Day, we come together to remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Many commemoration programs are scheduled for this weekend in SD10:
The Commonwealth’s 66th Annual Memorial Day Ceremony hosted by Virginia War Memorial on May 30, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., on site at 621 S. Belvidere St. Following the ceremony, the Richmond Cadet Alumni Band and Friends will be performing a concert. The Virginia War Memorial is also hosting the Color of Freedom exhibit until June 28, highlighting the sacrifices of minority women throughout history and the value of diversity in our nation’s armed services.
This Memorial Day, I will be presenting the memorial resolution that I sponsored celebrating the life of Staff Sergeant John Joseph Nichols, USA Ret. Sergeant Nichols served in World War II and the Korean War and was one of the last surviving members of a Buffalo Soldier regiment prior to his passing on March 20, 2021. His incredible service to our country was highlighted several months ago in this article.
Congratulations, Class of 2022
Graduation season is a time full of recognition, reflection, and, of course, celebration. These past two years have been anything but normal, far from easy, and full of unprecedented challenges. However, the Class of 2022 persevered, and I applaud their individual successes. I also thank the parents, teachers, administrators, and other caring adults who helped our students navigate challenging times. In the many student speeches I heard over the course of the graduation ceremonies for Midlothian, JamesRiver, and Cosby High Schools, I heard our young people speak about compassion for each other, resilience and grit, acknowledgement of their own vulnerabilities, and a willingness to find moments for grace in difficult times. I remain optimistic for our collective future because of the kindness and courage I hear in such voices.
Family Summer Activities in the Region
With the school year coming to a close in the next few weeks, we hope that families in District 10 are able to enjoy time together and take advantage of all the wonderful amenities of the region. Below are just a few opportunities for families to stay active:
Richmond Public Library is hosting Book Babies, a storytime for young children at the Main Library and West Hills branch every Tuesday from 10:30 to 11 am as well as other events throughout the summer.
The Richmond Arts District will host summer RVA First Fridays on June 3, July 5, and August 1. These evenings feature extended hours by local businesses, galleries, and restaurants as well as live music and art.
Chesterfield County Public Libraries is hosting the 2022 Summer Learning Program, an initiative aimed at encouraging residents of all ages to read and engage in educational activities throughout the summer. Participants who reach activity and reading milestones will be entered for a chance to win prizes and gift cards to local businesses.
Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation hosts a variety of summer programs, including athletics, nature walks, summer camps, historical tours, and programs catered to our senior citizens. The full summer program catalog is available here.
The Powhatan County Public Library hosts a variety of activities throughout the summer, including movie nights for all ages, arts and crafts for children, and story time. Schedules are available on Facebook and on the Powhatan County website calendar.
The Powhatan State Park is an inviting space to visit. It rests at the northwest corner of Powhatan County, encompassing over 1,500 acres and nearly 2 miles of James River waterfront. Powhatan State Park features a full-service campground, primitive camping, multi-use trails, picnic shelters, and a playground. More details are available at the Department of Conservation and Recreation website.
Community Events This Week
I attended the Asian American Society of Central Virginia’s 24th Annual Asian American Celebration this past weekend with fellow VAAPI Caucus member, Delegate Subramanyam, as well as Virginia’s US Senator Mark Warner, Senator McClellan, Delegate VanValkenburg, and Delegate Willett. This important celebration returned to Richmond after two years, and it was delightful to see so many cultures represented. I thank all of the organizers, volunteers, and vendors who made the event possible for Central Virginia families to enjoy.
On Monday, I joined the Virginia Association of Counties Regions 2 & 3 Meeting where I provided a brief overview of the 2022 General Assembly session and heard the priorities and concerns of county leaders from around Central Virginia.
On Wednesday, I attended the annual Virginia State Police memorial service to honor the dedicated members of the Virginia State Police who have been lost in the line of duty. Their sacrifice, and the innumerable sacrifices of their families, are humbling, and this annual commemoration is a powerful reminder of the courage and commitment of these public servants.
Connecting With My Office
My staff continue to hold meetings with constituents via Zoom or by phone. You can sign up for a meeting with either of my staff members with our easy scheduling app: