By: By: José Niño
To say political tensions are running high in Virginia would be an understatement.
In 2019, Virginia gun owners were able to stave off potential gun grabs in the wake of the Virginia Beach shooting of May 31, 2019. Many activists on the ground were initially worried that enough squishy Republicans would cross over to help Democrats pass gun control. Thankfully, gun owners placed relentless pressure on Republican lawmakers. Because of the targeted pressure, Republican officials who were in control of the Senate abruptly ended the Special Session of the Virginia General Assembly in the summer of 2019.
The year 2019 did not end on a high note, however. Following electoral victories in 2019, Virginia Democrats, led by Governor Ralph Northam, are ready to impose as much gun control as possible on law-abiding gun owners in the 2020 session of the Virginia legislature. The new Democratic majority’s anti-gun desires have sparked a Second Amendment “sanctuary” revolution in the state’s rural counties.
What we’re witnessing in Virginia is part of a larger movement that started in Oregon with the passage of Second Amendment Preservation Ordinances in 2018. Gun sanctuaries have quickly made their way across the nation in the wake of the Parkland, Florida massacre. In many ways, they are a response to the Left’s radicalization.
In the midst of this uncertainty, Virginia Second Amendment operatives have resorted to unconventional measures of political pressure ever since Northam revealed his plans to roll out so-called “assault weapons” bans, red flag legislation, handgun purchase limits, and universal background checks following Democrats’ successes in the 2019 elections. After the dust settled from the results of the General Assembly elections, activists quickly formed Second Amendment sanctuaries across the state, where multiple counties have passed resolutions vowing not to enforce any new gun control coming out of Richmond. So far, more than 90 percent of counties in Virginia have passed Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions.
The sanctuary movement did not stop there, though. After gathering national attention for their Second Amendment sanctuary efforts, 2A activists at the Virginia Citizens Defense League announced the Lobby Day 2020 rally in the state capitol of Richmond, Virginia. This rally’s purpose was to protest Northam’s anti-gun agenda and re-assert the right of self-defense in the Old Dominion. The whole nation waited in anticipation as January 20 approached.
In the meantime, Virginia’s sanctuary movement caught the attention of its neighboring state West Virginia. Several West Virginia representatives introduced a resolution that would invite Virginian sanctuary counties to join West Virginia to escape the potential gun grabs coming from Richmond. Even Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. suggested that Northern Virginia be incorporated into the District of Columbia, given the massive demographic and political changes that part of the state has witnessed in recent years. The political environment has changed significantly in Virginia, which has rightfully worried Virginians who care about their gun rights.
The lead up to the Jan. 20 rally was filled with cliché fearmongering about “white nationalists” and other extremist groups potentially joining this protest to cause mayhem. To avoid another scenario like the one in the chaotic Charlottesville protests of 2017, Northam decided to declare a state of emergency, in which he banned guns at the state capitol on the day the official protests would be held.
When the event took place on January 20, nothing remotely violent took place. An estimated 22,000 people peacefully gathered to protest the prospective gun grabs Virginia Democrats are concocting for the 2020 session of the Virginia General Assembly.
Indeed, there was strong euphoria among Virginia gun owners after this protest. But rallies and protests can only do so much in politics. National Association for Gun Rights President Dudley Brown had a sober takeaway after the event transpired. Brown tweeted, “Today’s rally in Richmond was a good start – now Virginians need to turn their attention to organizing for the next elections, or all the rallies and protests won’t mean a thing.”
Rallies are nice and all, but if this event isn’t followed up with a solid grassroots opposition campaign throughout the 2020 session and a strong presence during election season, it will essentially be meaningless.
Furthermore, Democrats don’t seem to be fazed by the rally. The day after the rally, Senate Democrats quickly passed a red flag gun confiscation law, demonstrating their intent to pass anti-gun legislation no matter what. Gun rights activists should be proud of the turnout they inspired on Jan. 20, but they must realize that the battle to restore the Second Amendment in Virginia is only getting started. Virginia Democrats are serious, and gun rights activists must be ready for whatever they throw at them.
José Niño is a Venezuelan-American political activist writing from Fort Collins, Colorado. Contact him at [email protected].