Gun-Free Zones, Closed Capitol Await Lobby Day Attendees

The Virginia Citizens Defense League’s annual Lobby Day, which has taken place for nearly two decades, will go off as scheduled today, but it will be a far different event than last year’s activities. In January of 2020 tens of thousands of gun owners took to the streets around the state capitol building in Richmond in a massive show of opposition to dozens of gun control bills introduced by Democrats.

This year the VCDL is holding what it describes as a bus caravan and rolling rally in downtown Richmond, with speakers (including myself) scheduled to stream their remarks online instead of speaking to a physical crowd of thousands. The head of the VCDL says that today’s event is about being a part of the political process, not trying to disrupt it.

“We are a law and order type group. We believe in lobbying. We are following the rules. We are doing everything legally. That is how we have always done it,” said VCDL President Philip Van Cleve.

The non-profit has been peacefully lobbying Virginia legislators every January since 2002.

Van Cleve has a message for anyone thinking about causing violence.

“We would say don’t do it. Stay away from Richmond. Violence is not going to accomplish anything positive,” said Van Cleve.

The state capitol building be closed to the public today, with the House of Delegates meeting virtually and the State Senate meeting in a socially-distanced session at the Virginia Science Museum, and many downtown streets have been posted with signs alerting folks to the fact that the city has declared them to be gun-free zones ( a move allowed by one of the gun control laws signed by Gov. Ralph Northam last year).

I have no idea what to expect today in terms of the size of the roaming rally, but I wouldn’t be surprised if attendance is smaller than the crowds on hand last year.

The violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th and the threat of violence at state capitols this past weekend (which thankfully didn’t come to pass) will keep some Second Amendment supporters away, while the fact that Democrats in Virginia are backing away from pushing a gun ban this session may also dampen today’s turnout.

My hope is that even if Virginia gun owners don’t travel to Richmond today, they’ll take part in Lobby Day by contacting their delegate and state senator via phone or email and urge them to stand in support of our Second Amendment rights.

It’s still possible that Northam and his anti-gun allies in the legislature will try to pass some type of gun control bill (perhaps a ban on so-called ghost guns) this session, but even if they shy away we know that if they keep control of the House of Delegates and the governor’s mansion in elections later this year they’ll be back with their gun ban in 2022. It’s important for Second Amendment supporters to use their voice now to try to stave off the bad bills that may be headed their way.