Tea partiers, gun rights and gun control advocates rally at Capitol
Several rallies were held back-to-back in Capitol Square yesterday as gun control and gun rights groups and members of the Tea Party came out to meet their legislators.
With most Virginians off from work, Martin Luther King Day is traditionally one of the busiest lobbying days at the state capitol. This year was no exception.
Roughly 200 Virginia Tea Partiers rallied at the Capitol to push for the proposed Repeal Amendment, which would ask Congress to call a Constitutional Convention for the purpose of an amendment to allow the repeal of any federal law or regulation by the vote of two-thirds of the state legislatures.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says the proposal would help restore Federalism in America.
Cuccinelli: It’s gonna take a lot of states, but it’s gotta start somewhere and again, it’s going to have to be bipartisan, you can’t just do this with one party or the other. It’s got to be a commitment, not to parties, but to re-protect the rights of the people of this Commonwealth and the Constitution that in turn protects them.
I’ve already heard here today concerns about it, ‘What about a runaway convention?’ But I’ve got news for you: it won’t come to that, because not just this Congress, every Congress has been too afraid of what might happen in Convention that they will lose control of the Federal Government if they were bypassed and the states could reorder a couple of things and gather some strength back to the states and take it from the federal government, this congress, if we get close to two-thirds, they’ll pass it themselves. That isn't hope, that's fear. There is momentum for this.
The repeal amendment will go before subcommittee this morning.
Nearly 300 gun rights advocates rallied to speak out against additional restrictions on gun owners and in favor of easing existing regulations.
Phillip Van Cleave, the President of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, says he is pushing for several bills this year, including one that would prevent state agencies from implementing individual gun control policies without the permission of the legislature and another one that would honor out-of-state concealed carry permits.
Van Cleave: It’s a Constitutional right, if you're allowed to own the gun, why does the government really care how you carry it? When you get a driver's license, they don’t really care if you drive on your driveway or drive in the public street. Same thing. They don't care what color your car is or if you cover it at night. That's been the big push nationally and in Virginia, is the gun show thing. They keep trying to tie it to these events and it doesn't fit; again, what happened in Arizona had nothing to do with gun shows. What happened in Virginia at Virginia Tech had nothing to do with gun shows; there's no connection there. I don't think it's going anywhere, but we are watching it.
Later in the afternoon, gun-control advocates staged a lie-in in rememberance of the nearly 800 Virginians that died as a result of gun violence last year.
Andrew Goddard is the President of the Virginia Center for Public Safety.
Goddard: I’ve fired shotguns. I’ve hunted. I will hunt again. Guns to me are a tool and there’s an appropriate place for them. There’s an appropriate use for them and there’s an appropriate way to handle them. I would not want to stop that, I don’t want to ban anything, but there are limits and the other side does not recognize those limits. They don’t want any limits, and our Constitution was not written that way. There are sensible things that we can do. Let's do them.
Andrew Goddard’s son, Colin Goddard, is the Assistant Director of Federal Legislation for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. He has been an supporter of tougher gun laws since he was shot four times in the Virginia Tech Massacre in 2007.
Colin Goddard: I was a victim of a weak law. I’m one of the people that was associated with a very high-profile incident but unfortunately, there's just about the same number of people who were killed at my school are killed every day in this country and it goes unnoticed. If we don’t do reasonable things to make it less likely to happen in the future, why do we ever expect to reduce the number of people who are killed by guns in this country every year? We can’t expect for things to be different unless we change something. Now that gun violence has affected one of the inner circles of public officials on Capitol Hill, if that doesn’t wake them up to do something, then what’s it going to take? Is it going to take more than 38 people killed?
There are reasonable things that we’ve been talking about for years that have been unfortunately drowned out by a very powerful lobby that represents a very powerful industry, and it’s going to be the will of the people with a voice loud enough to penetrate that wall and to get those elected officials who were put there by us to do our will.
Craig Carper, WCVE News, Capitol Square