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January 20 2A Lobby Day: Join Virginians In Desperate Fight To Save Second Amendment Rights

VCDL Lobby Day
In the 2019 off-year election Democrats won control of the Virginia General Assembly for the first time in two decades. One of their campaign themes was that Democrats would enact “common sense” gun control measures. However, one of the new Democrat majority’s first acts was to hear in committee and pass a number of radical measures (summaries at the end of this article) that are anything but “common sense.”

And now Virginia gunowners are in a desperate fight to keep their property and to preserve the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

One of the best ways you can help in this fight – even if you do not live in Virginia – is to participate in the Virginia Citizens Defense League-sponsored lobby day at the Virginia State Capitol on January 20, 2020.

Our friends at the VCDL, Gun Owners of America and the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action have shared the following important logistical and safety information with us.

FIRST ARE THE NEW CARRY RULES:  RED ALERT! Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday said he is banning all firearms and other weapons in Capitol Square, the public space outside the Virginia Capitol complex that is the site of the January 20 2A lobby day rally. The space includes monuments to prominent Virginians and the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial.  According to new rules passed by the legislature's Democrat majority, carry is also prohibited inside the General Assembly (GA) Building and the Capitol.

VCDL suggests that if you intend to go inside to lobby you should leave your firearm at home, in your hotel room, or out-of-sight in your locked vehicle. DO NOT LEAVE AN UNSECURED GUN IN AN UNLOCKED CAR! There have been multiple firearms stolen out of vehicles lately. DO NOT HANDLE A LOADED FIREARM. VCDL's firearm safety policy at all VCDL-sponsored meetings, events, or gatherings has always been that loaded firearms shall NOT be handled; they will remain holstered or otherwise secured at all times.  Don't ask someone to hold your gun while you go in the building. VCDL suggests that if you are lobbying and come unarmed that you travel in groups with a DD...Designated Defender. This person volunteers to stay outside while the others go in and make our voices heard. As an alternative, you can use a fanny pack type holster which can be taken off and handed to your companion for safe keeping while you go into the building. AGAIN, DO NOT TAKE THE FIREARM OUT OF ITS HOLSTER.

Folding knives with a metal blades less than 3 inches are allowed.  However, some of the Capitol police officers were not aware of such knives being permitted on Monday, January 13.  If the Capitol Police won't let you bring in such a knife, request a sergeant or a lieutenant to be summoned.  Twice VCDL members carried a 2.9-inch knife and placed it in the provided screening basket as they went through security with no problem.

A Special Note About Long Guns:

If you are asking how you can help with VCDL's mission, carrying long guns at Lobby Day is not helpful - it is a distraction. VCDL's important messages inevitably get lost as the press rushes to get pictures of anyone carrying an AR or AK. The stories then become about the rifle, not VCDL's agenda. You can set your watch by it. Long guns are not easy to carry in a crowd, either. VCDL needs its voice heard loud and clear in order to able to stop the onslaught of gun-control bills and urges Lobby Day participants to avoid carrying long guns to the event.

Laws you need to know for carry in Richmond:

You can't have a magazine in a centerfire rifle or pistol that holds more than 20 rounds unless you have a Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP). You must also have a CHP if the centerfire rifle or pistol has a threaded barrel or a folding stock. See Virginia Code 18.2-287.4

Open carry without a CHP is legal in Virginia, but watch the restrictions in the previous paragraph.

Be patient with the Capitol Police on the screenings.  It was not their idea, but Democrat leadership's idea.  The police are just doing their job and VCDL has always had an excellent working relationship with them.

SCHEDULE:  VCDL teams will begin lobbying at 8:00 am and continue until 10:30 am. From 11:00 am until noon VCDL will have a rally at the Capital steps. It will be crowded, so try to get there early if you want to be able to see (and hear) the speakers. Once the rally is over you can continue lobbying, grab some lunch, or head back to your bus/car. VCDL BUSES WILL DEPART AT 2:00 pm so allow yourself ample time to return to your bus.

LOBBY TEAMS:  Teams will begin forming at 8:00 am and start entering the GA Building right away. ARRIVE EARLY IF YOU INTEND TO LOBBY! We will meet at or near 10th and Bank Streets, form groups and move down 10th Street to Main to enter the building. Team Leaders will likely have orange VCDL clipboards and will be wearing high visibility vests. Seek them out as soon as you arrive and try to get on a team. Most team leaders will have a list of the Delegates and Senators with whom they will be meeting. However, if you can’t find a team with YOUR Delegate or Senator, we encourage you to join a team anyway, as things are likely to be crowded.  Some Team Leaders are posting their Senator and Delegate assignments on Facebook.  You can hook up with them in the VCDL Group.

EXPECT LONG LINES:  There will be a large turnout. Not everyone will fit in the building at once. When the capacity is reached, entry into the building will be halted until people leave. Please visit your assigned offices and perhaps your own Senator's and Delegate's offices and then exit the building so others can enter. Patience is essential. If you have trouble standing for extended periods consider bringing a folding chair. VCDL HAS BEEN TOLD BY CPD AND DGS THAT THERE WILL BE NO SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS FOR HANDICAP ENTRY INTO THE BUILDING.

DRESS FOR THE WEATHER:  It is January. It can be cold. Most of the day will be spent outside. Please check the weather and dress appropriately. Business casual or better attire is suggested. When you are communicating with people you do so with your appearance as well as your words. Wear comfortable shoes. There is a hill to climb from Main to Broad and the Capitol Square area is hilly as well. The elevators in the building will be packed so you may end up using stairs.

SITUATIONAL AWARENESS:  There have been many rumors, videos, and articles flying around the internet. VCDL says they cannot stress enough that this is a peaceful day to address our Legislature. Yes, we hold a rally, but the point of the day is communication with our Representatives. To our knowledge there are no credible threats of violence. That being said, please practice appropriate situational awareness. IF YOU SEE A BAD ACTOR flag down a police officer and point it out. If someone tries to provoke you, smile and walk away. There is probably someone secretly recording the interaction, with the intent of capturing some kind of inappropriate reaction on your part.  Don't take the bait. It's not worth the bad press. The eyes of the nation and the world are on Virginia and VCDL right now and we must show them that gun owners are not the problem. Lead by example.  We have been and continue to be in close contact with several law enforcement agencies and will keep them informed of all potential threats that we become aware of.  Law enforcement will be in abundance at the event, both uniformed and plain clothes.

FINALLY, SOME OF THE BAD BILLS DEMOCRATS ARE ALREADY MOVING: The first gun-control bill to pass out of committee was SB 69, a one-handgun a month bill, which reinstated the last version of that law before it was repealed.  Democrat Senator Saslaw's version of that same bill, SB 22, was rolled into SB 69 and SB 69 was passed out by a partisan vote of 9 to 5.  Republican senators Mark Obenshain and Ryan McDougle put up strong resistance, as did speakers who pointed out that the law had been a failure, but to no avail.

Next up was SB 70, a Universal Background Check bill.  Democrat Saslaw's version of the same bill, SB 12, was rolled into SB 70.  A substitute bill was then offered for SB 70, which made the background checks only apply to sales of guns and not transfers, which fixes the problems with letting a friend or family member use one of your guns without you being constantly present.  However, it still strips an 18, 19, or 20 year old from being able to own a handgun, since a dealer cannot process a handgun purchased by federal law for someone that age.  Also, a background check would have to be run on all sales, even sales to immediate family members, friends, etc.!  SB 70 passed by a partisan vote of 9 to 5.

Democrat Senator Barker's Red Flag Law bill, SB 240, was eviscerated during the debate, as all the flaws and dangers of that bill were brought up by Republicans Obenshain, McDougle, and Chafin on the committee, as well as by the pro-gun speakers.  None of the concerns were addressed and the bill was passed by a partisan vote of 9 to 5.

Finally, SB 615, SB 450, and SB 505, all of which allow localities to pass various gun-control ordinances, were rolled into a substitute version of SB 35, making SB 35 an omnibus bill that destroys preemption by allowing Virginia localities to create a confusing set of local gun-control laws.  Again, speaker after speaker spoke against SB 35, but it passed by a partisan 9 to 5 vote.

The gun-control bills that passed out of committee will now head to the Senate Floor to be voted on in a few days.

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