The Washington Post, which has already run several op-eds critical of the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement in Virginia, is now out with a news story designed, in my opinion anyway, to stoke fear about the upcoming Lobby Day at Virginia’s state capital on January 20th. According to the Post,
“Gun rights advocates and militia members from across the country are urging thousands of armed protesters to descend on Virginia’s capital later this month to stop newly empowered Democrats from passing gun-control bills.”
That conjures up images of armed protesters storming the capital building to prevent votes from being cast, which is not going to happen. And in fact, despite the breathless lede, Post reporters
Lawmakers said they have been in regular contact with state, city and Capitol police, and VCDL president Philip Van Cleave said he is keeping lines of communication open so all sides are prepared.
“Hopefully it’ll not be another Charlottesville,” Van Cleave said, blaming police and state planning for the violence that erupted during 2017’s Unite the Right rally around a Confederate statue. Counterprotester Heather Heyer was killed when a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of people.
Van Cleave has appealed to his supporters not to come bristling with intimidating long guns – including assault-style rifles such as the AR-15 – and politely suggested that militia members are welcome but do not need to provide security. Police will take care of that, he said, “not to mention enough citizens armed with handguns to take over a modern midsized country.”
Full disclosure: I’m scheduled to speak at the Lobby Day rally, and I’m not going to Richmond so I can storm the statehouse. I’m going to lobby my legislators, as well as other lawmakers who I hope can be persuaded to change course away from the disastrous decisions they’re planning on making.
The gathering on the 20th is one that is in support of our civil rights, as hopefully tens of thousands of Virginians descend upon the state capital to make their voices heard. To me, its spirit is much more akin to the civil rights March on Washington in 1963 than Lexington & Concord in 1775.
After all, there were only a few hundred Massachusetts men at Concord Bridge. We have no idea how many men and women will be at the state capital on January 20th, but the VCDL is telling the state police to prepare for anywhere from 50k-100k people, while I’m hearing the state police are estimating a crowd closer to 30k. Even on the low end, that would be an absolutely staggering number of attendees, and would dwarf the largest army ever assembled during the American Revolution, much less the minutemen at Concord.
In fact, if we’re going to use the American Revolution as our historical comparison (and I think there are better historical analogies we can and should use, frankly), then we’re not anywhere near April of 1775. We’re probably closer to the early months of 1765, when the British Parliament was debating the passage of the Stamp Act.
In 2020, we haven’t even had committee hearings for these bills, much less final votes. No bill has been signed into law. No law has been challenged in court. No Second Amendment Sanctuary counties have had the chance to respond to any unconstitutional gun laws that will be passed. No juries have had a chance to acquit someone charged with violating one of Ralph Northam’s proposed gun laws.
Let’s not forget as well that what’s happening in Virginia is just one piece of a much bigger plan by gun control activists to impose these same restrictions and more at the federal level. Even as gun owners in Virginia are mobilizing to oppose Ralph Northam’s gun control bills, we need to be doing everything we can to ensure the election of pro-Second Amendment candidates in November.
- we are in the early chapters of this story
- there is plenty we need to do instead of the boogaloo
- anybody that is advocating violence on January 20th or as a response to the passage of any of Northam’s gun laws is no friend of the Second Amendment or individual liberty, in Virginia or elsewhere.
Now, having said all that, I have to tell you that I’m not really concerned about unrest on the 20th, at least from those who would claim to be supporters of the Second Amendment. I’m more concerned about finding a place to park, to be honest.
Despite what the Washington Post wants people to believe, and as crazy as it might sound, I and many others will be attending Lobby Day out of love; love for the families we want to protect, love for the state that we call home, love for our country and the rights afforded to us as American citizens, and love for our fellow Virginians, who deserve so much better than the gun control bills that Ralph Northam is pushing.
As angry as I am about what’s happening in my state, I will not be there with hate in my heart, not even for the politicians who would be happy to turn hundreds of thousands of Virginians into felons with the stroke of a pen. I will oppose their efforts until my dying breath, but I won’t hate them.
Even when lawmakers like Del. Dan Helmer introduce a bill that would change the law to require the NRA’s range in Fairfax, Virginia, and only that range (to the best of my knowledge) to shut down, I won’t hate them. I won’t claim to understand them, and I’ll certainly believe that vindictive and petty pieces of legislation like HB 567 are simply designed to harass the NRA while making it more difficult for gun owners in northern Virginia to have a place to train with their firearms. I won’t hate them, no matter how much they might demonstrate their contempt for gun owners like me.
— Dan Helmer (@HelmerVA) January 6, 2020
I hope and believe that is the same spirit that others will bring to Lobby Day on the 20th. Obviously we are all driven by concern over the gun control laws that Governor Northam is demanding, and we are determined to be seen and heard, but why exactly is that? It’s not because we “love our guns,” it’s because we love our families. We love the rights we possess, including our right to bear arms and our right to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of our grievances.
We love our fellow Virginians, and don’t want to see them end up felons or in prison for possessing a suppressor, or brought up on criminal charges for allowing their 17-year old daughter access to a gun in case she needed it to defend herself while she was home alone. We don’t want to see Virginians in crisis have their guns taken from them, but left alone with their knives and no help for their mental health. We don’t want to see politicians pull one over on voters by “doing something” about guns, when we can and should be addressing mental health, domestic violence, drug and gang-related violence instead. We don’t want to see a war on drugs replaced by a war on guns, with young black men continuing to suffer disproportionately for non-violent possessory offenses while politicians pat themselves on the back for their “criminal justice reform.” And no, we don’t want to see the most commonly sold rifle in the United States today to be suddenly declared exempt from the protections of the Second Amendment.
Troy Carter, a resident of Amelia County who I’ve come to know a little bit over the past month, told one of the Washington Post reporters, “I am worried people will come here to Virginia and look for that opportunity to cause trouble. It’s not going to be the sanctuary guys, because we just want peace and to be left alone.”
Troy is typical of a lot of the people I’ve had the chance to meet at Second Amendment Sanctuary meetings across central Virginia over the past two months. He’s not really political, though he votes. Outside of that though, he’s not really interested in politics. He’d rather work on his car, hang out with his family, maybe go to the lake. He doesn’t want to be doing this. He doesn’t want to be calling his county supervisor or his state Senator, or trying to keep track of what new gun control bills have been introduced. He doesn’t want to do any of it, but he will. Troy Carter is “woke” now, and so are tens of thousands of Virginians just like him.
Those Virginians, of all backgrounds, ages, ideologies, creeds, and colors will be standing together and speaking up for our civil rights on January 20th. The list of speakers includes Dick Heller, Stephen Willeford, Virginia sheriffs Scott Jenkins and Danny Diggs, state Senator Amanda Chase, and delegates Nick Freitas and John McGuire among other Second Amendment stalwarts (the complete list can be found at VCDL.org).
Additionally, many of us are also offering or supporting other ways to address these issues that a) are effective and b) are constitutional. We’re not just saying “no” to gun control, we’re bringing something to the table that actually works.
Whether we like it or not, the fight we face right now is political, and while most of us find politics distasteful, that doesn’t mean we can afford to be ineffective. We are primarily trying to persuade lawmakers to not support these measures, but an important secondary consideration is trying to persuade the public that there are better ways to address their concerns. Without a doubt, both of these are uphill battles in Virginia at the moment, and among the Left more generally. That still doesn’t give us an excuse to be ineffective, especially in a presidential election year.
As the Washington Post article shows, the media is intent on portraying Second Amendment supporters in the most ominous terms possible, and anti-gun politicians are happy to do the same. It’s up to us to prove them as wrong about gun owners as they are about gun control. I’ll be doing my part, first by attending the committee hearings on the January 13th and attending and speaking at the Lobby Day rally on January 20th at the state capital. I encourage every one of my fellow Virginians to join me and thousands of others as we peacefully, positively, and powerfully make our voices heard.