Virginia lobby day protests smaller than in recent years

Virginia lobby day protests smaller than in recent years
AP Photo/John C. Clark

It wasn’t that long ago when Lobby Day in Virginia was national news. Governor Ralph Northam and his buddies who had taken office vowed to enact gun control laws, and a whole lot of gun rights advocates came out to oppose such measures.

Yet, Monday was Lobby Day all over again. Why was it not such a story?

Well, because attendance was lower this year.

Gun-toting Second Amendment rights advocates descended on Virginia‘s Capitol Square on Monday for the state’s annual Lobby Day.

In recent years, the annual tradition has seen large swaths of gun rights activists gather at the Capitol in Richmond, Virginia to demand that the state government repeal gun control laws.

But on Monday, the crowds were less impressive as just dozens of pro-gun group members, many wearing camo and bulletproof vests and carrying assault rifles, gathered across the street from the Capitol. Some stood close to signs proclaiming that firearms are prohibited beyond a certain point.

The gun activists chanted about their freedoms and at one point, were seen walking towards the Capitol with their weapons, before they were promptly stopped by Richmond police who calmly let them know where guns are and are not allowed on the premises.

No arrests were reported, and by the end of the work day, the protesters gathered up their things and left.

In 2020, the Washington Post reports, 22,000 armed advocates from around the country converged on the Capitol for Lobby Day to protest Democrats’ efforts to pass gun control.

And after the Democrats passed laws to limit weapons on the Capitol last year, gun rights organizers staged a drive-through protest, holding out their guns and honking as they passed by.

But this year, with a new Republican governor and a Republican-controlled General Assembly, many of the bills being proposed would expand gun rights in the state.

And honestly, this isn’t shocking. There’s no threat to gun rights in Virginia right now, not with new Governor Glenn Youngkin in office.

See, Lobby Day was never as big as it was in 2020 before, so there’s little reason to figure it would be again, especially without the pressing threat on gun rights.

However, it probably should be.

Imagine if lawmakers knew that every year was going to be like that. How do you think they’d expect that to change if they started to consider gun control laws all over again? They’d have to expect an even bigger crowd to come out and protest such measures on Lobby Day.

It might make them reconsider some of that kind of nonsense.

Not that I blame people for not coming. They can offer support for gun rights measures remotely without taking time away from their families.

All that said, it feels weird saying that happened in 2020. I mean, of all the things that happened in 2020, it feels like five years ago instead of two. When we think back to 2020, we don’t think of the massive turnout for gun rights at Lobby Day. We think of lockdowns and riots, not the actual peaceful protest that the media tried to turn into an insurrection attempt.

Frankly, I’m glad to see people are still out there, though. Lawmakers need reminders that we can muster numbers to oppose any measure they think they can cram down our throats.