Gun Control and Gun Rights Rallies held at State Capitol
RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) - Advocates for gun control and for gun rights showed up at the State Capitol Tuesday to represent their cause as the General Assembly meets for a special session to discuss gun control.
After a Virginia Beach city employee shot and killed 12 people on May 31, Northam ordered the special session, calling for passage of a wide range of gun-control measures. The session got underway Tuesday at noon and adjourned less than two hours in.
There were two separate rallies held around the Capitol, with gun control advocates meeting around 10 a.m. before surrounding the state house, with gun rights advocates holding their own rally later in the afternoon.
Both sides called on legislators to take action to either fight or support stricter gun control laws.
“I want them to do something. Doing nothing is not helping the commonwealth. We just had violence in Virginia Beach and we have to do something. We just can’t stand back with the laws that we have now because it’s not working we have to make a change,” said Sylvia Glass, a gun control advocate.
Gun rights advocates hosted their rally later in the day. Several demonstrators brought some of their rifles to the rally to send a message to the legislators.
“It’s a people problem; it’s not a gun problem. I mean all of us out here today, we’re good people. We love our families, we want to protect our families, and we want to continue to have the right to do that,” said Larry Lewis, a gun rights advocate.
People from central Virginia representing both sides joined the protests at the State Capitol as well. About 50 gun rights advocates boarded a bus in Charlottesville to Richmond for the special session. They're urging lawmakers to vote against everything Governor Northam has proposed.
Catherine Robb says she wants to see the red flag law proposition defeated. “You cannot legislate evil and mental illness out of people out of people's hearts you're only punishing law abiding gun owners and responsible citizens for the crimes of other people and we're not going to stand for it,” she stated.
Other gun rights advocates say putting restrictions on guns will not prevent more tragedies from happening like the one in Virginia Beach. The group says their Second Amendment rights are not negotiable and should not be infringed by the state or federal government.
Dozens of gun control advocates from the Charlottesville area also left Tuesday morning for Richmond. The League Of Women Voters, the Charlottesville Coalition For Gun Violence Prevention and other groups organized the trip to the Capitol. They advocated for several bills, including extreme risk protection and the one-handgun a month law is a law which limits handgun purchases to one per 30 days.
Maggie Hoover of the League of Women Voters says they're not trying to take away Second Amendment rights altogether. “We're just trying to reach a common ground. We're supportive of people who would like to own gun - many of us do own guns - but we need to be smart about the people who own them and what kind of guns we do own,” she stated.
Hoover says too many bills are dying in committee and she wants to see the House vote on bills to restrict gun violence. Several attendees said they want universal background checks.
The General Assembly adjourned around 1:30 p.m., less than two hours before the special session began. Legislators will return to Richmond on November 18 to continue discussing possible gun control measures.