These victims of violence have different perspectives on what to do about guns in Virginia

Posted at 6:51 PM, Jan 20, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. -- Mark Whitfield knows Carter Jones Park in South Richmond well. He grew up here and his daughter, 9-year-old Markiya Dickson, died here.

"My baby didn't even get to make it to see 10," Whitfield said.

A stray bullet killed Markiya as she played in the park on Memorial Day.

"Everything stopped for me that day, my life is totally different, fun ain't fun for me anymore," Whitfield said. "My life cut out."

Police said a group of young men in the park got into a fight and fired shots.

One bullet hit Markiya. Another bullet wounded an 11-year-old boy.

In response to the shooting, Richmond City Council approved an ordinance to ban guns in public parks and city-owned buildings. But Virginia law allows guns there, so the measure is just symbolic.

A new bill that would allow local governments to ban guns in those spaces has already passed the Senate this year.

Whitfield, a gun owner himself, supports the bill and a ban on assault rifles.

"Why do we have them kind of guns in the streets period?" Whitfield asked.

But he remains skeptical about other efforts for stricter gun laws.

"They won't work. I know they won't work for a fact. I live in the streets, I'm in the streets," he said. "When I was 16 I had a gun. I didn't go to the store and fill out no paper for it. Go out on the street, a couple of hundred dollars, you got a gun."

Whitfield said illegal guns are the major concern in neighborhoods like his, where the vast majority of gun violence happens.

"A law don't make no difference on who got a gun," Whitfield said.

Another Father's Perspective

"I have great sympathy for the father and he is absolutely right, there's more to it than just having a lot of guns available," Andy Goddard, whose son Colin survived in the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech, said.

And, yet, Goddard, who volunteers a lot of his time fighting for stricter gun laws in Virginia, said there are ways to stop the illegal guns from infiltrating neighborhoods like Whitfield's.

He pointed to a bill under consideration in Virginia that would mandate background checks in private gun sales.

"The guns are coming into the communities from law-abiding people, they're either stolen from them, or they're actually selling them directly to criminals because they don't think they should have to be bothered about who it goes to," Goddard said.

The Virginia Tech shooting, and Goddard's visit to the state legislature soon thereafter, lit a fire inside him.

"I almost lost my son and that made a significant change to my life," Goddard said.

He said he believed the government could reduce gun violence.

"I'd love things to be done based on research, not just on anecdote, not just based on opinion," Goddard said.

Now Goddard carts this bag back and forth to the General Assembly lobbying for gun control bills.

"This year we have a lot more green bills, a lot more good stuff," Goddard said.

Goddard scoffs at arguments from those who argue that if his son had been permitted to have a gun on his college campus he could have stopped the shooter.

"His first impression was he thought it was a policeman, his second was he was on the floor shot," Goddard said.

College Student Attacked

Savannah Lindquist sees things differently.

Lindquist, who lives in Norfolk, said she was raped her senior year at Temple University in Philadelphia.

"To be assaulted is devastating," she said. "It completely uprooted the path of my life."

She believes that if she'd been allowed to have her gun at school, she could have potentially prevented the rape.

"I do know I was denied the chance of being able to defend myself," Lindquist said. "All laws have unintended consequences, and I feel like I'm an example of that."

Lindquist said the gun control bills being considered in the Virginia General Assembly will just make it harder for her and others to defend themselves.

"What about the one-gun-a-month proposal?" CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit asked Lindquist.

"I don't think it's the government's job to tell me what I can and cannot buy. I'm not hurting anyone," Lindquist said.

And she fears a red flag law, which would allow law enforcement to take away your gun if you are determined a threat to yourself or others, because she has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

"Can what happened to me, the effect that it had on my brain chemistry, can that be used against me?" Lindquist said.

"Do you think there is any room for compromise on this topic?" Hipolit asked.

"It's hard to think about compromise when my side has already compromised and those laws aren't being enforced and we get blamed for when terrible things happen that we didn't do," Lindquist responded.

So far, the now Democrat-controlled Virginia Senate has passed every gun control measure that's come up for debate that the former Republican majority in the Senate blocked for years. Senators have yet to consider an assault rifle ban and some Democrats have indicated they have concerns with the drafts of proposed bans they've seen.



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