Virginia gun rights protest: Why and what now?
Colin Rivera, Staff Writer
On Monday, Jan. 21, thousands of people gathered outside the state capitol in Richmond, Va. to protest a number of proposed bills and defend their rights. The bills at the center of this debate revolve around creating new gun control laws.
One of the bills, Senate Bill 240, states in abridged terms that a search warrant can be issued for a person who potentially poses a threat to himself or others. This warrant would then allow authorities to seize firearms of said individual for a two-week period. That period can be extended by a court for up to a total of 180 days. The individual is then barred from purchasing more firearms, loses their ability to sell firearms, and have any handgun concealed carry permits revoked.
This bill has upset many people across the country. Firearm activists reacted to the bill by setting a day of protest on Jan. 21. A common claim made by the gun owners is that if the government takes their weapons, they are not only more susceptible to attacks from criminals, but will no longer be able to defend themselves from their government if they pass an unjust law. President Trump had agreed with the sentiment shared by gun owners stating that their rights are “under very serious attack.” Many counties in Virginia are against the move, as well. They have vowed to be sanctuary cities for the second amendment and will not enforce the new firearm laws.
In awareness of threats made to prevent violent situations that have happened at previous rallies and protests, the Virginia governor, Ralph Northam, called a state of emergency to prevent weapons on capitol grounds throughout the weekend leading up to the rally and the day after it.
As expected, the rally had approximately 22,000 people in attendance. This includes a large number of people who stayed outside the grounds of the capital so they could maintain their right to openly carry their rifles and handguns. Contrary to what many people thought would happen, there were no major conflicts between protestors and authorities. The day ended as peacefully as it had begun.
“It is super important when analyzing these things to look at things like why were there not any arrests,” said Saint Martin’s student and political science major, Kennedy Birley. She believes that the reason for it is because the protestors and authorities are of the same middle-class background. Birley speculates that many of the protestors are over exaggerating the effect the bill will have on their lives.
“I think a lot of people don’t think that politicians are trying to do good things. When you meet people that work in state legislatures they’re some of the kindest most caring people that I have ever met and nobody is really in it with the intention to con everybody else.”
Even with the thousands of protestors voicing their opinions, the Virginia Senate passed the bill by a vote of 21 to 19. That means that the bill will now be sent to the House.