As a participant in Monday’s Lobby Day Second Amendment rally at the State Capitol, I write to share my perspective of that day with your readers. This seems necessary in view of the distorted coverage by the national media and the deliberate misperceptions generated by our state leadership surrounding the event. The reality of what took place was far different from that portrayed by media commentators and was not – as several national news outlets reported – a “white supremacist rally.”
Every year around this time, citizens of the Commonwealth meet with their elected representatives in Richmond and “lobby” for or against bills pending before the ongoing legislative session.
Governor Northam has made it his top priority to enact so-called “common sense” gun control measures. These range from banning “assault-style” weapons, “Red Flag” laws, requiring universal background checks for all firearms purchases, and even outright prohibition of minors owning and utilizing firearms.
Clearly, citizens of the Shenandoah Valley believe these measures are unconstitutional and will eventually lead to strong-arm gun confiscation what the progressives call a “buyback.” I have never purchased any firearms from the Commonwealth and am not quite sure how they could buy them back.
My early-AM ride to Richmond on Monday rather resembled a tour bus to Disneyland. No “gun nuts,” no white supremacists, no Nazis, no bomb-throwers, but rather parents and grandparents of both sexes, representing many varied occupations. We shared one common value – that our right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by U.S. Constitution shall not be infringed by our state government.
As we approached Richmond, you felt the tension. In view of the Governor’s “emergency declaration” and with the media boiling over with (hopeful) predictions of mass carnage, had we been wise to enter a potential “hot zone”? As we drew closer to Ground Zero, the law enforcement presence in the streets increased dramatically.
Our bus was greeted by a Richmond police officer who reviewed the rules for the event; in turn, we assured him we had no agenda other than to publicly lobby our elected officials to support the American rights of free speech and the Second Amendment. As a group, we prayed for peace. Finally, we filed out of bus and entered the Capitol grounds.
Mindful of the Governor’s fevered alarms, we scanned the area for any evidence of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Antifa or other hate groups. There were none; all we saw was a cross-section of the Commonwealth in terms of age, race and gender. Actually, Lobby Day sort of reminded me of a college football game, with several exceptions: the attendees were sober, they listened to and thanked police officers, they respected the rights of others, and they even picked up trash before departing the grounds. Yes, there was a noticeable anti-Second Amendment presence there, but nobody attempted to confront anybody else, and both factions chanted their opposing views with civility and respect.
And so it passed that at the end of the day – despite the Governor’s needless and unhelpful hysteria and the media drumbeat for violence – the story is that tens of thousands of everyday Virginians had spoken, and been heard.
Was it worth the trip? I’d go again in a heartbeat.