Charlottesville wasn’t all that long ago, by most people’s reckoning. While the event was something of a trainwreck and a lot of horrible people were there and resulted in a fatality, one thing we haven’t stopped hearing about what just how much people on the right are to blame for it.
However, it seems a new bill may have been sparked by the events of that day.
Virginia State Senator Louise Lucas has introduced Senate Bill 64, which will add the following to the state’s anti-paramilitary law:
3. Assembles with one or more persons with the intent of intimidating any person or group of persons by drilling, parading, or marching with any firearm, any explosive or incendiary device, or any components or combination thereof.
While it’s arguable whether those who openly carry firearms at political events are trying to intimidate anyone, this law may well put an end to the practice entirely.
You see, the language is interesting because it doesn’t specify just groups. So a single person with a firearm walking around could be argued to be “parading, or marching” with it. Drilling might be a bit of a stretch, but the other two are nebulous enough that it’s not difficult to see Second Amendment activists with Glocks and 1911s in their hips being arrested for “parading” when they attend a pro-gun rally.
While that might not be the goal of this, make no mistake, if this bill passes, it’ll be applied like that sooner or later.
Of course, the whole anti-paramilitary law itself is problematic as these are the things already forbidden under state law:
1. Teaches or demonstrates to any other person the use, application, or making of any firearm, explosive, or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury or death to persons, knowing or having reason to know or intending that such training will be employed for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder; or
2. Assembles with one or more persons for the purpose of training with, practicing with, or being instructed in the use of any firearm, explosive, or incendiary device, or technique capable of causing injury or death to persons, intending to employ such training for use in, or in furtherance of, a civil disorder;
Item one could, arguably, be used to put the kibosh on any kind of firearms training. That’s particularly true of people offering AR-15 training as much of that kind of training tends to be applicable to urban gunfights such as the kind one would find in “a civil disorder.” It also could have a serious impact on gunsmiths who may figure some of their customers are worried about things going to crap and needing their weapons to defend themselves. After all, “employed for use in…a civil disorder” doesn’t preclude someone acting in self-defense in such a situation.
Of course, item two could apply to any two people who agree to cover each other’s backs if things go south.
In other words, the current law is just as bad as Lucas’s proposed expansion of it.
Instead of adding new provisions to the law, the Virginia General Assembly needs to kill the whole anti-paramilitary law as it stands. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. That’s a shame.
After all, the militia present in Charlottesville–the very people this measure is likely targetting–was credited with preventing violence that day. Maybe Lucas should think about that.
She won’t, though. She’s pushing an ideological agenda and damn the facts.
My hope, though, is that this bill won’t see the light of day. We’ll have to watch it, though.