White House response to University of Virginia shooting invokes ‘assault weapons’ ban

Within hours of police arresting a suspect in the fatal shooting of three University of Virginia football players, the White House called for an assault weapons ban even though the suspect was alleged to have used a handgun in the killings. 

The White House said President Biden and the First Lady were “mourning with the University of Virginia community after yet another deadly shooting in America has taken the lives of three people.” 

University of Virginia police released a picture of Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., who has been named as the suspect in a shooting on the UVA campus Nov. 13, 2022.

University of Virginia police released a picture of Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., who has been named as the suspect in a shooting on the UVA campus Nov. 13, 2022.
(University of Virginia police/Twitter)

“Too many families across America are bearing the awful burden of gun violence,” the White House said, before invoking President Biden’s signing of the “most significant gun safety law in nearly three decades” earlier this year.

“But we must do more. We need to enact an assault weapons ban to get weapons of war off America’s streets,” the White House said before taking a subtle jab at Republicans: “House Democrats acted, and the Senate should follow.”  

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Congress passed a bipartisan gun control bill in June after a spate of mass shootings from Buffalo, New York to Uvalde, Texas. Still, the bill stopped short of more stringent restrictions that Democrats have been pushing for, including the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban that Biden called for, which passed by Congress in 1994 but expired 10 years later. 

UVA football player D'Sean Perry 

UVA football player D’Sean Perry 
(Virginia Cavaliers Official Athletic Site)

Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., a 22-year-old University of Virginia student and former member of the school’s football team was arrested Monday morning in connection the fatal shootings of Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry Sunday evening. Two other students were wounded and hospitalized, police said. 

UVA football player Lavel Davis Jr. 

UVA football player Lavel Davis Jr. 
(Virginia Cavaliers Official Athletic Site)

The shooting touched off an intense manhunt that included a building-by-building search of the campus. The lockdown order was lifted late Monday morning. Jones was taken into custody without incident in suburban Richmond.

UVA football player Devin Chandler

UVA football player Devin Chandler
(Virginia Cavaliers Official Athletic Site)

The arrest warrants for Jones charged him with three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony, police said. 

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Elected officials have weighed in on the tragedy but with less overtly political statements. 

U.S. Sens Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, both Democrats, issued a joint statement saying they were heartbroken to hear about the tragic shooting at UVA and are praying for those who were injured, the families who lost loved ones, and the entire UVA community.”

“We will continue to closely monitor the situation and urge everyone to follow the directions of local law enforcement as they continue searching for the suspect,” they said. 

UVA police seen on campus as law enforcement search for shooting suspect Christopher Darnell Jones, Jr. 

UVA police seen on campus as law enforcement search for shooting suspect Christopher Darnell Jones, Jr. 
(Fox News)

Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia, a Democrat, called out the “senseless act of violence on UVA’s campus.” 

“I am keeping the UVA and Charlottesville communities in my prayers, and I want to thank the law enforcement officers and public safety officials who have taken the suspect into custody,” she said. 

Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia, also a Democrat, called the tragedy “another horrific instance of gun violence” and shared an Emergency Hotline for family and friends with questions. 

Rep. Donald McEachin of a Virginia, a Democrat, called the shooting “horrific,” saying he was keeping the UVA community in his prayers. 

“Thank you to the university of, law enforcement & other first responders for their vigilance during this tragedy,” he said. 

Classes and other academic activities were canceled for Tuesday. A university-wide vigil was being planned for a later date.

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Scores of worshipers gathered Monday evening on campus at St. Paul’s Memorial Church for a prayer service.

Fox News’ Paul Best and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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