Del. Nicholas J. Freitas (R-Culpeper) talks with reporters after giving a controversial floor speech on gun control at the State Capitol in Richmond on March 2. (Bob Brown/AP)

The March 3 Metro article “Gun debate in Va. House gets fiery, halts session” offered such vivid descriptions and ample quotations from floor speeches that I felt as if I were there in the House of Delegates. I fully expected someone to pull out a cane and re-create Rep. Preston Brooks’s (D-S.C.) attack on Sen. Charles Sumner (R-Mass.) in the U.S. Senate in 1856.

Del. Nicholas J. “Nick” Freitas’s (R-Culpeper) fraught references to the Democratic Party’s past support of segregation needed no rebuttal. It is a historical fact.

Perhaps now that Mr. Freitas has collected his wits, he will consider another historical fact. The Democratic Party recognized its mistakes and came to reject its racist past, just as the Republican Party, such as it is, has the opportunity now to reject its devil’s pact with the National Rifle Association and move us forward toward reasonable gun control, including banning assault-style weapons and expanding background checks. In the mid-20th century, people saw just how indefensible Jim Crow laws were by watching their enforcement on TV with police, fire hoses and dogs. In the 21st century, we see real-time streaming of the latest school massacre. How will we react to what we see this time?

As a longtime citizen of the commonwealth of Virginia, I call on Del. Thomas C. Wright Jr. (R-Lunenburg) and his Republican colleagues to stop killing gun-control bills and let them come to the floor for debate and votes. What are they afraid of?

Cathy Clary, Afton, Va.