And VCDL Lobby Day as well.
Fair warning: This is a long one.
Update 2: . In other news, there is a great website called Virginia Gun Info that Virginia gun owners should have bookmarked. (in the fourth video down, Phillip Van Cleave is being interviewed by a Washington Post reporter. I step into the frame behind the reporter about 20 seconds in and am over her back shoulder. I’m the bald guy with the brown sportcoat and black scarf. I had just spoken to Phillip before the interview started and I was aware that it was going on, but I didn’t realize I was in view of the video being shot.)
Update: Virginian Pilot video report. By the video, it is apparent that the Virgina State Police Colonel was NOT in uniform as I had heard, however my home town Sheriff, WAS. I’ll definitely keep that in mind the next time Mr. McCabe comes up for re-election.
Update 2: Sorry, I’m confused. The Col. Massengill in the video is NOT the current Virginia State Police Superintendent (what I called “Captain” in the post). Col. Massengill is a FORMER State Police Superintendent who was also the chair of the anti-gun farce called the “Virgina Tech Review Panel.” It is still possible that the CURRENT State Police Superintendent, Col. Flaherty, did speak in full uniform. The report didn’t mention him.
It went very well if you ask me…although I have nothing to compare with as this was my first opportunity to attend.
The drive there and back was uneventful other than that yesterday was, to date, the coldest day of the year in this area…I was originally going to take the scoot, but I decided against it. I would have to really bundle up against the cold for the ride, but then I’d be in a heated building most of the day with no place to store extra layers.
Plus I wanted to look respectable for lobbying. I’m not a vain person in the least, but I wouldn’t want any valid points I might provide to a legislator to be dismissed out of hand because they were distracted by the biker look. Also, there was some snow a couple of nights ago and there was still the possibility of slick roads, especially toward Richmond so…with all those considerations, I drove the behemoth instead. Counting the $14 it cost to park all day and gas there and back, this probably ended up costing me about $50…but well worth the price of admission.
I think my favorite part of the whole day was setting off the metal detector. That’s the first time I’ve ever done that and not had to try to figure out what I had forgotten to take out of my pockets.
Under Virginia law, they cannot prevent a CHP holder from carrying a firearm on public property (with a few notable exceptions…jails and prisons are examples). That means, instead of emptying pockets at the metal detectors, you show your CHP and ID and walk on through. The Police didn’t seem too happy about the number of potentially armed visitors they were dealing with and there seemed to be some confusion as to whether they were supposed to be “logging us” in or not. Some of the Officers seemed to think so but, when challenged, could come up with no authority for doing so.
There were a few of our opponents there sporting competing Yellow “Close the Gun Show Loophole” (sic) stickers but there were not that many around. I found out later that there was a committee conference going on about the senate bill regarding that issue and many of them were there. I heard that the conference was a sham…Several VCDL members spoke against it, but it was apparent that the Senate committee had already made up their minds. We’ll probably have to get this bill killed in the house after it crosses over.
One other note about the conference…I heard that the Captain of the Virginia State Police was there in full uniform to “testify” in favor of the bill. I have to wonder if he was on the clock or if he had taken the day off work like the rest of us. I have a definite problem with a public official utilizing their official position and at the publics expense, lobbying for a political agenda…especially one that would infringe the freedom of those who pay his salary.
The first step was to find my legislators and make my voice heard with them. I never found Senator Northam and I assume he played hooky yesterday. While waiting to speak to Delegate Miller, a fairly large contingent of young people from various colleges around the commonwealth showed up to speak with her as well. They were all not only wearing the “Guns Save Lives” stickers but also “Students for Concealed Carry on Campus” buttons as well. I was very happy to see that they had had such a large turnout and they had some very eloquent spokespersons for their, and our, cause. Eventually one of her flunkies came out and spoke unsatisfyingly with us but she would not deign to grace we little people with her august presence. Basically, we were treated to the standard “Delegate Miller supports the Second Amendment BUT…” line. I heard politicians who take that line referred to as “but monkeys” several times during the course of the day. I like it.
The Press was very much in evidence. I ran across camera crews and print photographers all day long.
After attempting to make contact with my legislators, I wandered the floors. I joined groups that were speaking with legislators in order to lend moral support (and swell their numbers) and just looked around to get an idea of what was going on.
Of the five floors that house legislator’s offices, there was only a significant presence of yellow stickers on one. The rest of the floors, I only saw one or two if any. I guess they were staying together to increase their impact…
I stopped off in the Cafeteria to get some overpriced, but tasty, food and then worked my way back down to the ground floor to await the next phase of the adventure. While wandering around, I ran across an interesting exhibit from the Virginia Living Museum…I’m not sure if they were there to lobby, or just to advertise, but I really enjoyed watching this guy for a while. He didn’t seem to mind the crowds in the least.
Next on the agenda was to attend the appropriately named “lie in” sponsored by “The Virginia Center for Public Safety”, “Protest Easy Guns” and “Million Mom March.” Between the three groups, by recruiting participants from across the state and providing bus transportation, they managed to scare up maybe a third of the numbers that VCDL had on hand without having to do more than announce the event.
Suffice it to say that I was underwhelmed.
Anyway, we met at the entrance to the General Assembly building and a couple of people had made up signs. We weren’t holding an official counter-protest so we only intended to be present and observe…but we wanted it very clear which side we were on so, in addition to the orange buttons and stickers. we taped the signs that said things like “Freedom is no Loophole”, “Disarmed Victims Lie Here” and such.
Then we wandered down to the site of the “lie in”. In the VCDL alert that I got this morning, I got some news that I hadn’t heard before. Apparently, the anti-gunners didn’t like the fact that we attended their event and tried to have the Capital Police forcibly remove us.
Here is the account given by Phillip in the VCDL Alert:
As I approached the protest, I was taken aback by the image of all those white VCDL signs blanketing the protest, drowning out the antis’ messages.
And the antis got mad. They tried to get us kick out, but the police told them that their protest was a spectacle, which draws spectators. He pointed out that we weren’t doing anything but standing and observing, all of which is protected by the First Amendment.
The antis, fuming, walked away from the police officer to pout somewhere else.
We had one member assalted by an anti who shoved him out of the way, saying, “This is OUR protest!”
Nice people, aren’t they?
And that brings up a point that I was intending to make but hadn’t gotten to yet. The overall attitude of the Anti-gunners the whole time. Every time I saw one or more, whether just walking together, talking together or at their “protest” event…the underlying tone was an unmistakable simmering anger.
One lady at the protest made her way through the crowd at least twice. She chose to pass right by me both times and, both times, when going from the back to the front, pushed me from the rear hard enough to almost cause me to stumble…and then, after pushing past me, mumbling “excuse me” in a very rude tone. The second time, I almost said “you know, it’s generally customary to say “excuse me” BEFORE almost knocking someone down to get through” but I held my tongue.
Several of the speakers were very, very angry and one of them played the “guilt” card, telling us how ashamed gun rights supporters should be for insulting them by daring to be present at their public demonstration.
I can definitely understand why the Anti’s don’t think THEY should be allowed to have guns. Anyone with that much latent anger should be very concerned any time they are exposed to ANY potentially hazardous object. I question whether they should be licensed to drive. I’ve often wondered what kind of mentality is required to become one of the “road ragers” that I see every day…now I know.
But I digress. Back to the demonstration. I staked out a location as close to the front as I could get so I could hear. I was right beside a group of antis, but there were also orange stickers and buttons all around me. In fact, orange buttons and the pro-gun signs were all around in every direction.
There were a couple of shouts from the pro-gun side during the speaking, but other than those isolated incidents, the pro-gun people were very considerate and quiet. I wonder, had the shoe been on the other foot would the anti’s have been so considerate?
As a part of the festivities, they had three or four people speak who had had loved ones killed by criminals with guns.
I couldn’t hear the one man that spoke, but the most interesting (to me) part of the two women who spoke about their children was their tortured logic as to how their situations justified closing the non-existent “gun show loophole.” The first one flat out stated that the perpetrator who killed her son had gotten his gun “off the street.” That he had purchased it illegally from a street criminal. Then she claimed that the “gun show loophole” somehow made this illegal sale of a stolen gun legal.
The second one first said that her child had been killed by an AK-47. Then she said that there were three weapons involved in the shooting, a .45, a shotgun, and an AK-47. Then she admitted that they had no idea how the perpetrators had gotten their guns but that the “gun show loophole was bad.” I can’t possibly describe how convincing the argument that she made was…
I have great sympathy for the losses suffered by anyone who looses a loved one to violence of any kind. The problem, however, is NOT the culture of gun ownership. The problem is the culture of thugs in which their loved ones were nurtured and raised. That is the culture that needs to be railed against and as long as that issue is not being addressed, anything else is just tilting at windmills.
Finally, the last speaker was a VERY angry lady who brought together all of the disparate concepts that had been discussed that day and gelled them into the over-riding theme of the entire protest. Her point? That legal gun owners (like us) either didn’t care about crime or were actively in league with the criminals because we wouldn’t eagerly agree to have our rights further infringed. WE are the bad guys. Her sentiment was met with enthusiastic applause and support by the other anti-gunners in attendance.
A bunch of pro anti-gunners [sorry; typo -ed] lay down in the grass for three minutes to simulate victims of “gun violence” and to simulate “the amount of time it took the Virginia Tech shooter to legally obtain his guns.”
As repeatedly pointed out by Phillip Van Cleave: Virginia is a one gun a month state (you know, that panacea that is going to end the violence in Philadelphia). Cho legally purchased two guns that he used during his rampage in Norris Hall. He followed all the laws when he did so and purchased the two handguns one month apart. That means, in order to TRULY emulate the amount of time that it took the shooter to obtain his guns, the anti-gunners were remiss by about 29 days, 23 hours and 57 minutes.
I’d REALLY be impressed with their dedication if they staged a “lie in” that ACTUALLY represented the amount of time it took for Cho to get his guns…especially in January.
That concluded the day for most of us, although the Iron-Man of the Virginia Pro-Rights movement, Phillip Van Cleave, was still attending committee sessions through at least 10pm last night. I don’t know where we would be without his dedication to this cause.
One final observation. The VCDL estimates that there were about 400 gun rights supporters lobbying in the General Assembly building and about 200 that attended the “lie in.” I would assume that a good 80 to 90 percent were armed.
All of those guns around amongst all of those people who disagree on the issues so fundamentally (and, in the case of the anti-gunners, so rudely and with barely concealed anger), and NOT ONE PERSON was shot. NOT ONE FIREARM was brandished. The Anti-gunners were perfectly safe even when outnumbered by armed individuals by a factor of two or three to one.
Curious counterpoint to their argument that “guns kill people” now isn’t it?