Democrats might wield power in the Old Dominion, but gun rights backers haven’t given up the fight.
As lawmakers met Jan. 13 to consider a slew of gun control bills, they were greeted by “thousands” of Second Amendment supporters determined to voice their opposition, The Washington Free Beacon reported.
Even in the face of that kind of popular discontent, four measures moved forward in the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee, thanks to a Democratic majority, though some were in slightly weakened form, The Free Beacon reported.
It was the potential of people power on full display.
“We are beyond impressed by today’s turnout,” said D.J. Spiker, Virginia state director for the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, according to The Free Beacon.
“You can see the passion and enthusiasm that the citizens of Virginia have in joining us in this fight,” Spiker said.
It’s a fight that’s been building since the fall’s elections put both houses of the state legislature in Democratic hands, along with the governor’s office, which Democrat Ralph Northam won in 2017.
In response to ambitious Democratic plans to proceed with gun control measures, Second Amendment supporters have mobilized throughout the state, with individual jurisdictions declaring themselves to be “sanctuaries” for Second Amendment rights.
But with the legislature in session, the conflict is being concentrated in the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond.
And gun rights supporters made it clear they aren’t backing down.
An absolutely incredible turnout by @NRA members in Richmond today. In contrast, abysmal showing by Moms Demand and anti-gun groups. Bloomberg has billions to buy politicians BUT @NRA members have the will to fight harder. #valeg #virginia pic.twitter.com/B4Pvkx8JC9
— NRA (@NRA) January 13, 2020
This is awesome news. I think Bloomberg poked a sleeping bear, and now the #Virginia legislature is scared. Hopefully firearm enthusiasts will be united, for all of America.
— PatriotsDemandAction (@PatriotsDemand) January 13, 2020
Democrats are willing to give up all of their constitutional rights for “safety”.
— Backroad Redneck (@RedneckBackroad) January 13, 2020
According to Ed Lynch, political analyst for WSLS in Roanoke, the huge turnout of protesters — many wearing circular stickers with the words “Guns Save Lives,” could have a lasting impact on the gun debate in the Old Dominion — and an impact Democrats won’t like.
“That’s far more meaningful, far more far-reaching, and far more persuasive evidence that Virginians were certainly voting for change [in 2019] but they weren’t necessarily voting for this sort of change,” Lynch told the station.
As heartening as the pro-gun turnout in Richmond might have been, Spiker told The Free Beacon the bills that passed the judiciary committee and are on their way to the state Senate floor still represent a danger to Second Amendment rights, even after their modifications.
“While there were some improvements to some of these bills, overall, it’s still bad legislation,” he said. “Putting in more regulations and making it more onerous on the law-abiding citizens of Virginia is not something we stand for.”
But it is something Virginia Democrats stand for — and the elections of 2019 gave them the power to actually implement it.
Gun rights supporters are going to keep up the fight, but it’s going to be uphill until they can win at the ballot box again — starting with re-electing President Donald Trump in November.
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