When Vice President Joe Biden releases his recommendations for reducing gun violence Tuesday, Blacksburg Mayor Ron Rordam is guessing they'll have a familiar ring.
That's because just before Christmas, Rordam was among 12 mayors from around the country who joined a conference call with Biden that stretched more than an hour as the officials explored the lingering effects that mass shootings have on communities.
"April 16 really changed Blacksburg," Rordam said, recalling what he told Biden and the mayors about the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech that claimed 33 lives. "The immediate month or two afterward, of course ... the strain on first responders. â? It goes on a long time.
"I know I still have moments when it comes back and it affects your thoughts and your feelings," Rordam said.
He said that during the Dec.21 call, he had an exchange with the mayor of Aurora, Colo., where in July a man killed a dozen people during a screening of a Batman movie. Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan asked Rordam how long it would take for the town to get back to normal.
"It really never gets back to the way it was," Rordam said he answered. "That experience is always in the back of your mind."
Rordam said he would let the vice president release the suggestions that were made during the call about stopping gun violence. The tone of the phone call was mostly conversational and aimed at sharing with the vice president perspectives on how mass shootings scar communities, he said.
Besides Rordam and Hogan, the call included mayors of Charlotte, N.C.; Avondale, Ariz.; Philadelphia; Oakland, Calif.; Charleston, S.C.; Minneapolis; Oak Creek, Wis.; Memphis, Tenn.; and St. Louis, Mo.
The call included no one from Newtown, Conn., where a December shooting spree left 28 people dead, most in an elementary school, and prompted President Barack Obama to charge Biden with coming up with recommendations on curbing such incidents, Rordam said. But the mayor of nearby Bridgeport, Conn., was on the call.
Rordam said he had about a day's warning about the Biden call and spent time preparing for it with the town manager. He said he was glad to have a chance to discuss important issues with the vice president, but would have preferred if Blacksburg were not on the nation's roster of mass shooting sites.
"Unfortunately, the group of us that have been involved continues to grow," said Rordam, who serves on a Blacksburg council with members that are elected without party labels. Rordam's name has come up as a possible Democratic candidate for the state legislature.