A Northern Virginia lawmaker publicly shared the tragic story of her brother’s death for the first time this week as the House of Delegates debated whether to repeal the “Red Flag” law.
Democratic Del. Wendy Gooditis has often said her older brother Brian’s challenges inspired her to run for office in 2017. But she rarely shared the painful details of his death until Monday.
The House was preparing to vote on a Republican-backed bill to repeal the Red Flag Act passed in 2020. The law allows people to notify police if someone with a gun is a danger for themselves or others so authorities can remove the gun with a judge. authorisation.
“We know that civil rights violations and abuses have happened repeatedly in Virginia before with the red flag laws,” Republican Del said Monday. Marie March, who represents Floyd County.
Then Gooditis rose to speak. She said she hadn’t anticipated the fiery and emotional speech that would soon spill over the floor of the House.
“It was just a wave rising in me saying, ‘It’s time. It’s time to say it out loud,'” she told News4.
Gooditis told her fellow lawmakers that she adores Brian. He was the king of reunions and a star athlete in high school. But he was sexually assaulted by a leader of a youth organization and later suffered from PTSD and alcoholism, she said.
“My brother was handsome, brilliant, loved, funny, troubled,” she said
A few years ago, she received a panicked call from her parents’ home in Clarke County. His brother was drunk and had a gun.
“The deputy sheriff came, asked for the gun. My brother gave it to him,” she said.
The deputy tried to calm his brother down.
“After 45 minutes, [the deputy] had no choice because of our laws in Virginia a few years ago, but to return the gun to my brother. I don’t have that brother anymore,” she told lawmakers. “A few weeks later he killed himself with that gun. You think about that by voting for this bill!”
The vote: 52 to 46 in favor of repeal.
“I bet it changed some people’s minds, but they’re not allowed to vote the way they believe they are,” Gooditis told News4. “I had Republicans come up to me afterwards and hug me and say they were so sorry to hear it.”
The speech has reached thousands of people outside Virginia’s capital since Gooditis shared it on his Twitter account.
She said she expects the Democratic-controlled Senate to block the repeal effort, and she doesn’t regret sharing her family history.
“The point is just to spread these stories – these stories where lives could have been saved, where tragedies could have been prevented,” she said.
The District of Gooditis includes parts of Loudoun, Clarke, and Frederick counties.