“The worst day of my life”: Tim Kaine explains how the Virginia Tech shooting impacted his views on gun control

Never again.
Never again.
Image: Reuters/Brian Snyder
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This question originally appeared on Quora: Why is gun control such a divisive issue in American politics? Answer by Tim Kaine, Democratic candidate for VP and Senator from Virginia.

The day of the Virginia Tech shooting was the worst day of my life. As governor of Virginia, I found myself trying to comfort a traumatized community and families of victims who were suffering the worst imaginable tragedy—and I knew I had to do something to make sure a tragedy like that never happened again.

That’s why I worked so hard to close the loophole that let the Virginia Tech shooter purchase his guns, strengthening the background check system to keep guns from dangerously mentally ill individuals.

Guns have a long tradition in American life. I know that from my home state—and also as a gun owner. But the truth is, the vast majority of gun owners support positive reforms to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them—people who put our kids, our loved ones, and themselves at risk. We’re simply not as divided on the issue as our representatives in Congress make the country out to be. Take the recent filibuster in the Senate, for example. 90 percent of Republicans and 85 percent of Democrats in America are in favor of preventing suspected terrorists from buying a gun. But was that reflected in the vote on the Senate floor? No.

So why is it such a divisive issue? I agree with Hillary—the real answer here is that it’s not. It’s just that the gun lobby, and in particular the NRA, has spent decades using money and influence to cause gridlock in Washington. Too many elected officials are scared to prioritize the safety of our communities over the profits of the gun lobby for fear they’ll lose their jobs. Look, I know the NRA. They’re headquartered in my home state, and they’ve campaigned against me in every statewide race I’ve ever run. I promise I’ll continue to stand up to their bullying.

It’s time for elected officials to stand up to the gun lobby, and pass the commonsense laws that Americans are asking for and that our communities need.

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