(May 2017) Catherine Read talks with Rev. James Atwood, author of the book Gundamentalism: And Where It Is Taking America, and a member of the Board of Directors of The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Catherine is joined in the second half of this show by Andy Goddard, Legislative Director for The Virginia Center for Public Safety.
In the first segments, Rev. Atwood talks about his experience as a gun owner, including his experience taking a gun to Japan in 1968 and the restrictions in place at that time on gun ownership in that country. His moment of reckoning in getting involved in gun violence prevention was when a charter member of his church was shot and killed by a teenager as part of a botched robbery. He has now written two books on the subject, the first one published in 2012, America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose. He is now a retired Presbyterian pastor and remains committed to his work on gun violence prevention in the United States and in Virginia specifically.
Andy Goddard, father of Virginia Tech shooting victim Colin Goddard, has been actively involved in gun violence prevention in the decade following the mass shooting in 2007. In his work for The Virginia Center for Public Safety, he is focused on gun legislation specific to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Out of the thousands of bills filed each legislative session, there are many related to guns. In 2017, there were bills related to concealed carry permits, guns in schools, domestic violence and child access. Mr. Goddard tracks those bills, helps to organize testimony for committee hearings around specific bills, and keeps the public informed. Details on the 2017 gun bills can be found at The Virginia Center for Public Safety.
There are numerous organizations working on the issue of gun violence prevention here in Virginia. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Everytown for Gun Safety and The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence are some of those groups active in our area. They help to organize constituents around defeating bad legislation in Virginia every legislative session. Here in Fairfax, VA, on the 14th of every month, there is a gathering of activists outside the NRA headquarters to mark the shooting at the Sandy Hook School in Connecticut on December 14, 2012, that took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults.
With an estimated 350 million guns already in the United States, most of them unregistered, we need to move the conversation from the right to own guns – which is not in dispute – to how to regulate them in a way that reduces the 32,000 gun deaths in our country every year.