While Virginia Democrats did their best to try to make it seem like gun control advocates and Second Amendment supporters were equally represented at the state capitol on Monday, the truth is that NRA members and opponents of Governor Ralph Northam’s anti-gun agenda far outnumbered their counterparts on the other side of the issue.
A tweet by the National Rifle Association captured the scene in the hallways of the capitol complex as state senators began to pass several gun control bills on party line votes.
— NRA (@NRA) January 13, 2020
NRA spokesperson Catherine Mortensen declared afterwards that “NRA members and supporters filled the capitol today in an overwhelming show of support for the Second Amendment.
“Many of them were in line to enter the capitol building before the sun came up and then flooded the committee room and fanned out across the capitol complex visiting their members.”
Mortensen also says that NRA members far outnumbered members of Moms Demand Action and other gun control groups who showed up to support the gun control bills, though you wouldn’t have guessed it by simply peeking into the committee hearing room.
Democrats instituted brand new rules for those wanting to attend the committee hearing, requiring an equal number of gun control advocates and Second Amendment supporters be seated, instead of a first come, first serve arrangement that would have left most gun control advocates stuck in the hallways.
Virginia Democrats are acting as if there was a massive wave of support for gun control across the state in last November’s elections. There wasn’t. In fact, statewide, a swing of 10,000 votes would have kept the legislature safely in the hands of Republicans.
Democrats did pick up a number of suburban swing districts, in part by promising “commonsense gun safety,” (and in part thanks to millions of dollars in campaign ads by Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety) but what they’re delivering is legislation that would turn the vast majority of the state’s legal gun owners into felons simply for maintaining possession of the guns and magazines they currently own, along with bills that target gun ranges, impose gun rationing, establish “red flag” laws that violate the due process rights of citizens while failing to protect the public, universal background check laws that don’t reduce crime, and more.
So far, Virginia’s Democrats seem far more interested in doing the bidding of their billionaire backer Michael Bloomberg than the will of the voters who’ve shown up at the capitol to lobby for their rights, or the tens of thousands of Virginians who’ve turned out at county supervisors and city council meetings in support of Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions.
Still, that doesn’t mean that the thousands of Virginians and NRA members who showed up at the state capitol on Monday were wasting their time. Far from it. They were there delivering a message, and if lawmakers refused to listen, that’s on them. I know for a fact that average, ordinary Virginians are paying attention, as are members of the media. Honestly, it’s not even a state story anymore. What’s happening in Virginia has now become a national and even international story (I’m scheduled to do an interview with a German television station later in the week, as a matter of fact).
To the gun owners, Second Amendment supporters, NRA members (and staffers), and opponents of these gun laws who showed up in Richmond today, thank you. Your presence is greatly appreciated, at least by those Virginians not eager to turn to a constitutionally protected right into a privilege.