In the aftermath of the April 16th, 2007 tragedy, many of the 32 families gathered together and discussed the possibility of creating a foundation to prevent future tragedies. Family members wanted to create a living legacy for the 32 lives that had been lost, to try to prevent future such tragedies, and to ensure that, should they occur, everyone involved received proper care and advice.
Soon after the tragedy, a group of family members and survivors embraced this selfless mission. They approached then-Governor Tim Kaine to seek a change in Virginia law that had allowed the shooter to buy his guns legally. A formal determination had been made by the Commonwealth that the shooter had been a danger to himself. His name was not submitted to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) because he was required to seek outpatient rather than inpatient treatment.
Ultimately, working with Governor Kaine, the General Assembly, and interest groups such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Brady Campaign, legislation was passed to ensure that an involuntary commitment to outpatient treatment would be grounds for inclusion in NICS.
Then, the Virginia Tech group continued to work with the NRA and the Brady Campaign, with the additional support of Virginia’s U.S. Senators, to pass federal legislation that provided grant funds for other states willing to follow Virginia’s lead on this issue.
On October 9, 2009, the non-profit 501(c)(3) Virginia Tech Victims Family Outreach Foundation (VTV) was established. The desire to create something meaningful out of something so tragic was realized.
VTV was created to make the nation a safer place and to offer solace to those who have faced similar suffering. For years, VTV devoted itself to caring for others in similar situations and improving safety on college campuses.
Towards that end, VTV created a trained crisis response team that, upon request, provides assistance to those impacted by incidents of mass gun violence. We also created 32NCSI or National Campus Safety Initiative. 32NCSI examined ten key subject areas of threats on campus and developed a checklist for colleges and universities to do a private self-assessment to identify areas for improvement. VTV is now partnering with NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education so that it can implement it nationwide. Moving forward, VTV will oversee that and endeavor to empower students with the knowledge gained.
At the same time, VTV is now returning to its roots by rededicating itself to ensuring that all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. submit to NICS the names of every person legally found to be a danger to themselves or others who were committed for treatment – to prevent them from purchasing guns from a federally licensed firearms dealer. As it was when work on this began, it continues to be a non-partisan mission with support across the political spectrum.
VTV welcomes all to our cause who would join in tribute to the memory of the 32 people who lost their lives, in tribute to those in any way impacted by this tragedy, and/or in the desire to prevent avoidable future gun violence and deaths.