On, Monday December 15, 2014, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is scheduled to be in Arlington to call for a package of gun related restrictions,[read_more] including a renewal of the Commonwealth’s former one-gun-a-month limit on handgun purchases, and revoking concealed handgun permits for parents who are behind on child-support payments, among other anti-gun initiatives. This was reported by the Washington Post’s Jenna Portnoy yesterday (Read Article). Sources indicate that McAuliffe is hedging his bet that platforming and capitalizing on mass shootings such as Sandy Hook and the 2007 incident at Virginia Tech as well as using the tragic death of Virginia Senator Creigh Deeds’ son will go unchallenged or be politically virulent to republicans in moderate districts to oppose his forthcoming measures.
While gun control is all but dead for the time on a federal level and in Virginia, one would assume the republican controlled General Assembly would never step backwards, especially with carpetbagger McAuliffe at the helm, McAuliffe is taking a timely and methodical approach to his initiative and should not be taken lightly. In other words, while Comstock, Brat and other recent republican wins show promise, McAuliffe and his handlers are, without doubt, counting on republicans and moderates to be in a state of celebratory inebriation (after loosing so many back to back huge elections) allowing his sneaky initiatives to slip through the cracks.
Riding on the coat tails of the two-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook incident is but one McAuliffe angle, the second is within Virginia and very strategic in this upcoming play. As you will recall, there was an unfortunate and tragic incident involving Virginia Senator Creigh Deeds earlier this year–the Bath County Democrat’s son stabbed his father and then fatally shot himself after Sen. Deeds and his wife were denied bed space for their son in a mental health facility. Note, while a democrat, Sen. Deeds was, for the most part, pro-gun. Soon thereafter, Virginia lawmakers easily passed a package of bills, which the governor signed, aimed at improving access to mental-health services. This bridged a gap between the two parties and provided common ground where McAuliffe can now come back in and, instead of positioning himself as anti-gun, will attempt to pull support under, being a “gun owner and supporter of the Second Amendment,” while posturing his new package as a way to “prevent dangerous people from stockpiling and trafficking dangerous weapons.”
So, while we can all agree that there are mental health issue to address, who is going to stop or prevent the crafty anti gun initiatives of McAuliffe and team in their attempt to poke holes in one of the strongest 2nd Amendment states in the nation?
First let me assure you it WON’T be the NRA. While the NRA has a “grassroots” division directed by former Loudoun County Republican Committee Chairman, Glen Caroline, called the NRA-ILA (Institute for Legislative Action) with a “grassroots” branch just for Virginia, their grassroots initiatives have little to nothing to do with directly combating current or forthcoming anti-gun legislation. More on that below.
Instead, and for the past 20 years, a true grassroots group of like-minded volunteers and supporters of the Second Amendment, and specifically, Article I Section 13 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Virginia Citizen’s Defense League (VCDL), will be the guiding force. VCDL is a single issue, non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots organization. Their focus–advancing the fundamental human right of all Virginians to keep and bear arms. Proudly, I and my wife are members–everyone reading this should be too.
For many years VCDL has single-handedly assisted, educated and guided Virginia lawmakers through Bills introduced on VCDL’s behalf or introduced through it’s influence or quashing bills which are simply inappropriate or worded incorrectly. Equally, VCDL takes on issues in local jurisdictions to ensure compliance with state law and other related initiatives (partial list of accomplishments):
- Repealed the local fingerprint requirement for CHP (Concealed Handgun Permit) applicants
- Prevent localities from banning firearms in personal vehicles while at work
- Prevent localities from requiring extraneous info on CHP applications
- Prevent gun bans during states of emergency
- Repealed Virginia’s One Handgun a Month rationing scheme
- Allowed a CHP to be used as ID for elections
- Improved the issuance of new/renewal/replacement CHPs
- Law that makes discharge of air guns on private
- Repealed the restaurant ban
- Law allowing a CHP renewal to be done through the mail
- Law which allows localities to be sued for having invalid, preempted ordinances on their books and
- Law which allows for the recovery of legal fees upon prevailing
- Compelled the Roanoke Times to remove CHP database from their website
- Instrumental in getting bill passed & signed into law to eliminate the requirement for fingerprinting of CHP applicants for renewals
- Instrumental in getting bill passed to seal CHP records from public view such as the media
- Established the Gun Dealer Legal Defense Fund to aid Virginia gun dealers fighting NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s lawsuits
- Law that allows concealed carry in a vehicle on K-12 school property
- Law that removed the presumption that if someone was carrying a firearm on Sunday in an area where a person could hunt, that the person was hunting
- Law giving full preemption protections to all gun owners in Virginia
- Hunting regulations changed to allow concealed carry of handguns for self-defense while hunting
- Worked with Henrico Board of Supervisors to get permit holders exempted from the gun ban in Henrico parks
- Played a key roll in getting preemption laws strengthened so that permit holders were totally protected from grand fathered ordinances while carrying or possessing a firearm
- Worked with Roanoke and Salem Civic Centers to remove gun ban wording from signs
- Instrumental in getting the Governor to allow Concealed Carry in State Parks
- Compelled Arlington to drop its gun ban in City buildings
- Got a strengthened preemption bill signed into law
- Compelled the City of Richmond to remove illegal signs banning guns from City Hall Building
- Compelled the cities of Richmond, Hampton, and Williamsburg and counties of Isle of Wight and Franklin to remove illegal signs banning guns in parks and libraries
- Stopped an illegal Gun Ban in Henrico County buildings
- Derailed “Operation Scarlet Letter” in Bath County — the sheriff’s scheme to have vehicles display a sticker indicating that the driver had a concealed handgun permit
- Originated technical & procedural improvements were made to the Concealed Carry Law
- Compelled the Prince William County Police to revise its Gun Safety Brochure
- Stopped a proposed City Gun Ban in Harrisonburg
- Defeated Fairfax County’s illegal County Facility Gun Ban regulation in Court
- Derailed mandatory statewide FBI fingerprint registration of all CHP applicants
- Pressured Lowe’s stores to allow Concealed Carry on premises
- Forced Fairfax County Police to revamp their “Firearms Safety Presentation” to remove anti-gun propaganda
- Forced Fairfax County to comply with the Virginia CHP law by eliminating: Personal history form, Police interrogation of applicant, Excessive fees
- Instrumental in getting Virginia’s concealed carry law changed from “may issue” to “shall issue,” swelling the number of permit holders from a few thousand in 1994 to nearly 350,000 as of 2014
- Engineered a change in Fairfax County’s hunting restrictions to exempt persons lawfully carrying firearms for personal safety
In fact, the latest of VCDL influence occurring over the past few days, was its swift action against the City of Alexandria Police Department concerning a wrong and potentially dangerously worded flyer passed out by City Police to local City of Alexandria businesses over the open carry of firearms. The flyer misinformed business owners and was blatantly wrong on several legal points further inferring police could [aka, should] be contacted if anyone was seen open carrying. Within days of the incident, VCDL had not only organized a gathering at City Hall with hundreds of VCDL members and to speak at a planned meeting in front of the Mayor and council members, yet VCDL was invited to Fox 5 studios in D.C., for an exclusive interview concerning the issue. VCDL Executive Member, Ed Levine, standing in for VCDL President Philip Van Cleave, gave the interview which aired live (Watch the interview). As a result of VCDLs influence, Alexandria City Police Department Chief Earl Cook corrected the flyer and sent his staff back out to retrace their steps, attempting to replace the original flyers. Equally, committing to properly educate and train his staff, 911 operators and keep an open line of communication with VCDL moving forward.
Why was VCDL so quick to respond and over a little flyer?
Think of this, a uniformed police officer hands you a flyer from his department. You take this as an authoritative document. Unbenounced to you, the flyer misquotes law and infers you should call them if you see a person open carrying. Without knowing better, you later see an otherwise law-biding person or persons lawfully open carrying a firearm, panic a bit, call this in to the police, similar to “swatting” without being a prank, stating there is a man with a gun and escalating a non-situation to one where, as VCDL President Philip Van Cleave stated to the City Mayor and council members, “…people have been killed because of [false] calls like that. It’s dangerous to everybody involved.” (Listen Here) FYI, Philip was formerly a Deputy Sheriff in Texas.
At the same time, the City of Alexandria Police Department also had an erroneous and illegal sign posted which attempted to restrict the carrying of weapons, including firearms, inside their building. In Virginia, no law restricts the carrying of firearms in such a building but the person VCDL was directed to City Attorney George McAndrews, who stated they are, “not going to allow guns in our police department, just not” and basically under no terms would the sign be removed, illegal or not. McAndrews ate his word as the sign was removed just after the Fox5/VCDL interview aired.
The Power of a Single Issue Grassroots Group such as VCDL is remarkable!
Back to the NRA/ILA and their lack of true grassroots influence.
I personally interviewed NRA/ILA Director Glen Caroline at NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, VA several months ago with the intent of finding out just what they did as well as why they would not work to influence gun rights legislation in Virginia. In a round about way, through mailers and support for Virginia candidates, they do periodically attempt to help but as far as true grassroots–their is none. The NRA/ILA has one person, one, assigned and living in Richmond who tours the state to represent the NRA/ILA regarding candidates and sitting politicians. Caroline stated that this person does, in fact, go to see lawmakers in Richmond when there is important legislation. But, my inquiries with over a dozen lawmakers in the Virginia General Assemble indicated that 1) they had no idea NRA/ILA did anything more than send mailers and fund-raise, and/or 2) they could not recall meeting with any NRA representative concerning gun legislation.
As a matter of fact, the one day out of the year that nearly 1K 2nd Amendment grassroots supporters and constituents plan for and gather in Richmond to rally and speak to lawmakers, ironically called “Lobby Day”, this coming year on January 19, 2015, the NRA/ILA not only has absolutely no presence, but Caroline stated that he has no intention of attending, sending representatives to or even announce this day in their monthly NRA/ILA newsletter.
So, lets assess this–gun owners are the single most like-minded group in the US. If they banned together for gun rights, there would barely be a candidate or lawmaker who would ever want to go against this highly motivated and massive one-issue group. Yet, even with this, the NRA/ILA, with its Virginia “grassroots” division, refuses to even “announce” to its Virginia followers (those on the newsletter list) that their voice and influence can be projected on this extremely important day. Lets review that again–a grassroots division, focused on grassroots in Virginia, the lobbying arm of the NRA for Virginia–refuses to even tell its followers that their voice and influence can be projected.
Unbelievable that an organization with its own grassroots division in Virginia does nothing to insight a grassroots base of influence–instead uses one paid representative and, in my opinion, is 1) no more grassroots oriented than there is a man in the moon, and 2) uses the word grassroots to misrepresent itself for the benefit of fundraising when it does little to nothing involving grassroots in Virginia.
Don’t get me wrong, Caroline pointed out what they actually do, but it’s under the heading of educational influence rather than grassroots efforts. Could you imagine the message it would send to lawmakers and the people it would band together (unity) if Caroline and company at the NRA/ILA would get involved in true grassroots work? Lawmakers have universally informed me that while its great that nearly 1K like-minded constituents show up and rallied together on lobby day, it would make even a greater impact if several thousand were present–sending a clear message to those who have anti 2nd amendment tendencies in the General Assembly.
Wake up Caroline–inform and unleash the people who support you and your NRA/ILA organization and give them a voice and way to become active!