Revisiting the subject of firearms

Edward F. Palm

“Let’s turn on the local TV news to find out who’s shooting who.” That’s what I say to Mrs. Palm these days at 6 p.m.

Seriously, it doesn’t seem like a day goes by that we don’t learn of at least one shoot in greater Lynchburg. Our Veterans Day weekend in particular was punctuated with gunfire.

This Friday evening, a lone gunman walked into the Cornerstone Street Iron & Ale restaurant and shot and killed Tyler Shane Johnson, the owners’ son. The suspected shooter, Derek Allen Lewis, has been arrested.

Before the weekend ended on Sunday night, three University of Virginia football players were shot and two others injured. The suspect, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., is in custody.

As of this writing on Wednesday, the motives for the shootings have yet to be revealed. We have learned that the suspect in Cornerstone is a convicted felon who was not permitted to carry a firearm. We also learned that the UVA suspect had a previous conviction for a concealed weapon offense and was reported to the university’s threat assessment team for possession of a firearm.

People also read…

  • Lynchburg drug ‘major’ gets 30 years in prison
  • Lynchburg police: Man in custody after fatal shooting at Iron & Ale
  • Virginia football player D’Sean Perry, who was killed in a shooting Sunday night, was an exemplary teammate
  • Davidson and Washington earn Seminole District football honors
  • Second UVa football player, wide receiver Lavel Davis Jr., identified as victim in Sunday night shooting
  • Police: one arrested after stabbing in Wyndhurst
  • Liberty football notebook: Flames try to let Hokies score, Louis and Walker return, and more
  • Fifth person affected by UVa identified; malicious injury charges added
  • After Closer Look: Epic Matchups Planned for Week 2 of Playoffs
  • Developer plans boutique hotel at historic Jones Memorial Library site
  • Lynchburg police are investigating two shootings
  • Fourth UVa shooting victim, footballer Mike Hollins, undergoing second surgery today
  • Accused UVa shooter talked about having a gun 2 months ago, university student says
  • Breaking down Liberty’s home game against Virginia Tech
  • Liberty University announces plans for new residence hall and parking lot

And by the time this column appears, there will probably have been other shootings in our region.

Knowing my background, some readers were surprised to learn that I am not a member of the NRA. Nor do I hold our second amendment to be unconditional and absolute. I happen to support a number of common sense gun control measures, some of which I have shared in these pages:”A retired sailor sounds the guns», May 9, 2021; “Stop these recurring tragediesMay 29, 2022. Both columns are available to subscribers online.

In other developed countries, the possession of weapons is considered a privilege and not a right enshrined in their founding documents. If it were like that here! But we are in the grip of those who worship and even fetishize guns. Hence their litany: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people! The only defense against a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun! It’s a mental health issue, not a gun issue.

These are all half-truths. The fact remains that people kill people with guns because it’s the easiest and cheapest way for ordinary people to do it. And contrary to what some choose to believe, adopting stricter gun control measures would not be a slippery slope. There is no plot going on to disarm law-abiding Americans. But far from those who are indebted to and/or afraid of the NRA to counter such paranoia, let alone defend the reasonable gun control measures that most Americans support.

To his credit, Governor Youngkin visited the UVA shooting site. But aside from a few theatrical tears, all Youngkin offered were the same old acquiescent thoughts and prayers from the Republican playbook. Pray if you are so inclined. But it reminds me of the old adage that God helps those who help themselves. It’s time to demand that our governor do something to help curb the epidemic of gun violence in our state.

But again, in the words of the poet, “I dream lovingly.” Governor Youngkin clearly aspires to higher positions. Repudiating the gun lobby would be in the interest of Virginians, but not in that of a Republican presidential candidate.

A former enlisted sailor and Vietnam veteran, Palm retired from the Marine Corps as a major and pursued an academic career. He lives in Forest and can be contacted at

A former enlisted sailor and Vietnam veteran, Palm retired from the Marine Corps as a major and pursued an academic career. He lives in Forest and can be contacted at

Jessica C. Bell