In his desperation to appease his shrinking "base," Gov. Northam recently proposed a number of so-called "common sense" gun-control measures – none of which would have prevented the recent Virginia Beach shooting.

On July 9, in less than two hours after the General Assembly special session ordered by Gov. Northam to pass more gun control bills, the assembly adjourned to allow the state's bipartisan crime commission to study proposals that might have prevented the shooting.

In lieu of using the Virginia Beach tragedy to push his own progressive agenda, the governor should have called for a blue-ribbon commission to study gun and mental health issues, similar to what Sen. Kaine did as governor following a 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech that left 32 people dead and more than a dozen wounded.

Like it or not, the facts are that the common denominator in most mass shootings in America is a shooter with untreated mental illness with access to a "gun-free" zone. A focus on mental health is the real issue we need to address, not more laws that impinge on our rights and laws that criminals will never follow - this issue is not being addressed by Gov. Northam's latest proposals.

I am a Navy veteran, an educator, grandfather of 10 – and a supporter of the Second Amendment. I support sensible gun safety laws, and I also believe that Virginia must achieve a reasonable and healthy balance between gun control and gun abolishment. I want my grandchildren to grow up without fear of gun violence, but I want them to have the right to be legal and responsible firearm owners if they choose.

Many of my Democratic friends tell me that all they want are universal background checks that will not affect my Second Amendment rights. Like nearly all of my fellow gun enthusiasts, I have no philosophical problem with universal background checks for all firearms purchasers. However, as evidenced by the July 9 session, the Virginia Democratic Party's goal is to strip away your Second Amendment rights and once they do, they are gone forever.

James Poplar, Quicksburg