Delegate Mark Keam - Virginia's 35th House District

Delegate Keam quoted in Vienna Patch about Tucson Shooting


Local Leaders Connect Arizona Shooting to Rising 'Decibel Level of Political Discourse'

Howell, Connolly, Keam will not ask for extra security

The shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at a constituent event in Arizona on Saturday was not "unforeseeable," said Virginia State Sen. Janet Howell.

"As the decibel level of political discourse has risen, so does the risk to elected officials," said Howell (D-32) of Reston.

Giffords is in critical condition at an Arizona hospital. The shooting spree killed six and wounded 14, according to CNN.

Speaking to the country's political discourse, Del. Mark Keam said  "there's absolutely nothing good about what happened today in [Arizona] on so many fronts."

"Public service should not have to cost lives," Keam said on Saturday via Twitter.

In an email, Howell said she received several threats because of her support for gun control.

She said the state needs to close the so-called "gun show loophole." The state allows people to buy firearms at gun shows without background checks, which would otherwise be required.

"... I think it is imperative that my constituents understand that the Virginia General Assembly is yielding on every gun issue to a fringe group called the Gun Owners of America. They make the NRA look reasonable," wrote Howell, who chairs the Virginia Crime Commission.

"Just last year, the Gun Owners of America spearheaded the effort to allow concealed weapons in establishments that serve alcohol.  The bill passed and the Governor signed it.  No one I know feels safer because people with concealed weapons are allowed in our bars."

Responding to a constituent's concern for the delegate's safety, Keam said he was more worried about citizens and other supporters who may unintentionally be hurt in an act like Saturday's shooting.

"I don't worry so much about myself since I chose a public life," he said on Twitter. "I do worry about innocent bystanders in harm's way. "

One thing that should not change, Keam said, is the tragedy's "impact on the democratic process and the open system of government that we enjoy today."

 "I certainly hope that this shooting does not limit the opportunities for elected officials to meet their constituents," Keam said in an e-mail. "I learn more about the concerns of constituents by knocking on their doors, holding open town hall meetings, attending civic association meetings, going to events hosted by various clubs and organizations, and by standing outside a farmers market.  Nothing should change this aspect of our open and free society, as accountability and access to our leaders must continue to be the bedrock of our democracy."

Connolly said the incident won't change how he does business during the current legislative session, or at future public events. "I don't intend to change anything, either in my schedule or in my approach with my constituents," he said in a statement released by his spokesman.

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