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Updated: Mar 5, 2022

NASWVA Statement on Mass Shooting in Virginia Beach - June 5, 2019

On May 31, 2019, twelve people were shot and killed and six more were injured by a coworker at a municipal government building in Virginia Beach. The shooter was armed with a .45 caliber handgun with a sound suppressor and a high capacity extension, both of which contributed to the number of casualties. The National Association of Social Workers Virginia Chapter (NASWVA) expresses our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and our unyielding support for the leaders and citizens of Virginia Beach. We also share outrage that these senseless tragedies continue to occur.

Since January 1, 2019, there have been 148 mass shootings and almost as many fatalities in our nation, with Virginia Beach having the highest number of fatalities year-to-date in a single shooting. Astoundingly, in the month of May alone, there were 198 people nationally wounded in mass shootings, for a total of 585 since the first of the year.

We may never know what motivated the Virginia Beach shooter to take the lives of his coworkers. But we do know that this unceasing national crisis calls for a comprehensive response that addresses the systemic causes of gun violence, including mental health, public health, criminal justice, and other dimensions.

Our hearts go out to all families in Virginia who have been victimized or touched by gun violence and other hatred and violence such as that we saw in Charlottesville. NASWVA stands up unequivocally against all violence, including gun violence. As social workers, we work to help communities be safe by working with other organizations and advocacy groups to promote peace and justice for all. As we grieve for the lives lost, we thank those social workers whose work supports victims, families, and communities each day.

NASW is heartened that the 2019 federal budget includes critically needed funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health to conduct research on the causes and prevention of gun violence. We urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to bring the Bipartisan Background Checks Act to the floor for a vote so all Senators can go on the record and show whether they are willing to take commonsense action now against gun violence.

In addition, NASWVA supports Governor Ralph Northam in his efforts on this issue, as he called yesterday for a special session of the General Assembly to convene later this month to consider gun control legislation. He has detailed a number of measures he plans to work with individual lawmakers to introduce or reintroduce at the session, including universal background checks; requirements around reporting lost or stolen firearms; reinstatement of a law (repealed in 2012) limiting purchasers to one handgun a month; a ban on military-style weapons, sound suppressors, and high-capacity ammunition magazines; and a “red flag” law which would allow authorities to seize weapons when a court rules the owner is a threat to themselves or others. According to the governor, in 2017, over 1,000 Virginians were killed by guns.

The time for meaningful action is past due. NASW will continue to work on multiple fronts, with Brady and other allies, to push for change.

NASWVA encourages feedback from members on the issue. If you have comments, ideas for involvement, or other feedback, please contact NASWVA Executive Director, Debra Riggs, at

We also encourage our members to become more educated and active on this issue. Below, find some useful resources:

  • CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS: To find your legislators by zip code, and to secure contact information for them:


  • VOTE: Virginia’s primary is next Tuesday, June 11.

    • To see candidates running in your district:

    • To learn more about issues and where candidates stand:

    • To track bills and votes:


  • LEARN: To read NASW’s latest social justice brief on the issue, “Gun Violence in the American Culture”:

  • ADVOCATE: To explore NASW’s Advocacy work:


  • CONNECT: Other resources on the issue include:

    • Everytown for Gun Safety:

    • The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence:

    • Brady:

    • Violence Policy Center:

    • Giffords:

    • The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence:


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