Monday, January 16, 2012

VA-ALERT: Lobby Day 2012 wrap up!

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Somewhere between 350 to 400 people showed up for VCDL's Lobby Day on Monday! The morning started with 20 teams of 10 people each visiting the offices of eight legislators on average,
to discuss VCDL's legislative agenda.

Orange "Guns Save Lives" stickers were everywhere. Also most had "Freedom is not a loophole" stickers.

I had a small team lobbying separately with me. Everywhere we went, our regular teams had either already been there, or were currently at that location!

Everybody was professional and made a good impression on those they interacted with.

The rally at the Bell Tower began at 11 a.m.

Speakers included:

Board Member Dennis O'Connor
U.S. Senate candidate Jaime Radtke
U.S. Senate candidate Bob Marshall
Dick Heller (of D.C. vs Heller)
Executive Member Bob Sadtler

Outgoing Membership Director, Jacque Blundell, was given a plaque in honor of the great job she has done for VCDL over the past years. (We should have a new membership director soon.)

Beside thanking of our members who came out to make up the teams, special thanks also go to:

*EM Bob Sadtler for organizing the Team Leaders and arranging their schedules.

* Board Members Dennis O'Connor and John Fenter who, with Bob, helped make Lobby Day flow effortlessly.

* Board member Bruce Jackson, who worked hard behind the scenes to set up the sound system, get supplies distributed, and much more.

* EM Chip Fetrow, though sick, still made it and controlled the generator and sound system, giving us a professional sound.

* EM Matt Gottshalk and crew for video taping the entire event.

* Member Don Litten, who also video taped much of the event. He has a 360 degree camera on a poll he used at the rally, which should produced some cool stills!

* All of the Team Leaders who moved their teams through the General Assembly is a smooth and orderly fashion.

* The Capitol Police, who were professional and courteous as always

We will have video and photos available and will post them when we get them.


The winner of the Surbu .50 caliber rifle was drawn at the end of the rally. (EM Ed Levine arranged the rifle as a donation from Surbu.)

And the winner is..........

Travis Youngblood of Centreville!

Congratulations, Travis!


Notice that some in the press credit us with only having 200 people at the rally. We have some photos and you and can judge for yourselves. But one thing you don't see in any of the stories is the size of the anti-freedom rally. I think the press was afraid of embarrassing them by printing such a small number.

Well, here's a *partial* photo of the VCDL crowd to give you an idea of the size:


Guns laws get backed, bashed at legislature


RICHMOND—One group of citizens roaming the Capitol to lobby legislators yesterday wore orange stickers that read "Guns save lives."

On the lapels of another group were stickers reading "Background checks save lives." [PVC: Yeah - those background checks worked just great at Virginia Tech back in 2007 and 2011.]

With many people off work for the holiday, Monday was a popular lobby day at the General Assembly, and the two sides of the gun debate were there in full force.

The pro-gun folks kicked their rally off first, standing in the cold outside the Bell Tower in Capitol Square and talking about their constitutional rights.

"The 2nd Amendment does not say 'after you secure a permit,'" said Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jamie Radtke, speaking to the crowd.

Philip Van Cleave, the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, said his group will lobby this session in favor of a bill that would repeal the one-gun-per-month law. Van Cleave called the 20-year-old law "totally unnecessary."

They'll also support a bill from Del. Mark Cole that would eliminate Virginia's concealed carry permit, making it so that anyone legally able to carry a gun could carry openly or concealed, without a permit.

Van Cleave said he also will push for a bill that limits the ability of state agencies to restrict the carrying of weapons, and his group favors bills to allow professors, at least, to carry guns on college campuses.

Van Cleave said he hopes to find the legislature more open to gun-friendly bills now that Republicans control both houses.
He called the bills' chances "much better than the last few years.

"Given a fair shake, I think our gun bills will do fine," Van Cleave said. "We have a good shot of getting a lot of these bills through. The makeup of the Senate is key. [I'm] definitely a lot more optimistic than I was a year ago."

In the back of the crowd stood Lori Haas, who became a gun-control advocate after her daughter was wounded in the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.

She is affiliated with several groups—including the Virginia Center for Public Safety and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and said they oppose most of the bills Van Cleave supports.
"We think the laws on the books are reasonable," Haas said. "In no way, shape or form do we need to weaken the laws in Virginia."

Later in the afternoon, those groups held their own rally and vigil for people killed with guns.

Colin Goddard, who was also injured in the Virginia Tech shooting, spoke. He said that if an armed citizenry were the antidote to gun violence, America "should already be the safest place in the world. [PVC: It is safer than England and has been getting safer each year for over a decade now.]

"Guns are not the solution to gun violence," Goddard said.

Sen. Don McEachin, D–Richmond, said he plans to introduce a bill that will expand background checks on gun purchasers. He would require all purchasers to undergo a background check—currently a buyer does not need a background check if buying from a private seller.

McEachin said it was important to make sure people who aren't allowed to buy guns—former criminals, the mentally ill and others—don't get them, and to ensure that "we don't accidentally arm terrorists."



RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia gun-control advocates and opponents are having their say at the General Assembly.

About 200 people attended a rally Monday by the pro-gun Virginia Citizens Defense League at the State Capitol. Most wore stickers saying "Guns Save Lives," and some openly carried handguns or rifles.

A gun-control group, the Virginia Center for Public Safety, also was lobbying legislators and planned a vigil for victims of gun violence. The two sides differ on an array of gun legislation, including a bill to allow citizens to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

Other gun-friendly measures are expected, including one to prohibit colleges and universities from barring gun possession on campuses.



Gun issues highlighted at Va General Assembly

Larry O'dell
Gun-control advocates and opponents pressed conflicting legislative agendas Monday in Virginia, site of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

About 200 people attended a rally by the pro-gun Virginia Citizens Defense League, which is advocating a package of bills that would eliminate or relax restrictions on carrying concealed weapons and allow guns on state college campuses. Most wore stickers saying "Guns Save Lives," and some openly carried handguns or rifles.

"The right to bear arms is a fundamental human right," said Clint Kritzer, a member of the gun-rights group's board of directors

A gun-control group, the Virginia Center for Public Safety, also lobbied legislators and held a vigil for victims of gun violence.

"We oppose guns on campuses, we oppose guns in airports, we oppose eliminating the permitting process," said Lori Haas, a member of the group. "We think the laws on the books in Virginia are reasonable and believe the majority of our legislators agree with us."

Haas is the mother of Emily Haas, who was wounded in 2007 when mentally unstable Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people before committing suicide. Advocates on opposite sides of the gun debate disagree on whether that tragedy warrants more or less regulation of firearms.

"If people had been allowed to carry, there still would have been deaths but one of the early ones would have been Cho and there would have been less carnage," Kritzer said.

Colin Goddard, who survived being shot four times by Cho, doesn't buy that argument.

"It upsets me when they use the situation at Virginia Tech as justification," Goddard said of the pro-gun group and its support for allowing guns on campuses. "Talk to the people who were there. It's a resounding `No.'" [PVC: Nice try, Mr. Goddard, but not true.]

Andrew Goddard, Colin's father and executive director of the Virginia Center for Public Safety, said the organization's legislative goals for this session are defeating proposals to weaken current gun restrictions and expanding the law on background checks for gun-buyers to include all sales, not just those by licensed dealers.

Their task is daunting. The already gun-friendly Virginia legislature became more conservative after the November elections as Republicans strengthened their Republican majority and took control of the Senate.

"We realize it's going to be very tough this year," Andrew Goddard said.

Sen. Donald A. McEachin, D-Henrico and sponsor of the bill calling for universal background checks, urged several dozen people attending the vigil for gun violence victims not to be discouraged by the current political climate, telling them that "by and by, we will prevail."

Legislation to require criminal background checks of buyers at gun shows has died annually for the last several years. McEachin's proposal would go even further, requiring background checks when guns are sold through newspaper or internet advertisements and at yard sales.

"In this post-9-11 world, we need to make sure guns are being sold to people who are not criminals, who are entitled to own guns _ and most importantly, that they aren't accidentally sold to terrorists," McEachin said.

On the other side of the gun debate, Del. Mark Cole is sponsoring legislation that would eliminate the permit requirement for anyone who wants to carry a concealed weapon. State law already allows Virginians to carry a weapon in full view without a permit.

"This doesn't expand who can or cannot carry a gun," said Cole, R-Spotsylvania. "All this would do is say you can carry it openly or concealed."

He said he's not worried about giving pistol-packing would-be criminals the element of surprise because "bad guys don't obey gun laws" anyway. The change, he said, would benefit law-abiding gun owners.

"I don't think you make it safer by making it more difficult for people to defend themselves," Cole said.

Other bills introduced by pro-gun lawmakers would allow faculty members to carry concealed weapons on campus, eliminate the background check requirement for purchasers who have a concealed weapons permit, allow guns in airport terminals and repeal the law limiting handgun purchases to one per month. The one-gun-a-month law, enacted in 1993, was intended to combat interstate gun trafficking.

Goddard's group is opposing all of those proposals.



Gun Control Takes Center Stage in Richmond [PVC: Gun control??? How about gun rights? Your bias is showing, NBC]

By Julie Carey

Gun control supporters and opponents held opposing rallies at the state capitol Monday.

Hundreds of gun owners rallied in Richmond with their guns at their sides, wearing their eye-catching "Guns Save Lives" stickers and armed with a list of bills designed to relax gun restrictions. Gun owners have been going to Lobby Day for years, but with Republican's controlling the House, Senate and governor's office, there's optimism that there bills will pass this session.

Gun owners outlined their priorities at a rally. Chief among them: They want the right to drop the requirement to get a permit in order to carry a concealed weapon.

"It does not expand who can carry a gun or anything like that," said Fredericksburg Delegate Mark Cole, who sponsors the bill. "It just says that if you can legally own and carry a gun, you can do it either openly or concealed, with or without a permit."

Activists will also push for the repeal of the law that limits them to one handgun purchase per month.

Prince William County Delegate Bob Marshall wants college faculty who have gun permits to be able to carry a concealed weapon on campus and into the classroom.

"If you can trust a professor to teach your children, and many Virginians do here in Virginia, why not trust them to protect their lives should that circumstance come up?" he said.

Gun control proponents held their own rally, led by Virginia Tech shooting survivor Colin Goddard and his father, who hope to block any attempt to allow guns on campus.

"It does disturb me," he said. "I just don't think guns belong in the classroom setting."

Likeminded lawmakers said they will also fight the effort to lift permit rules for concealed weapons.

VA-ALERT is a project of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc.
(VCDL). VCDL is an all-volunteer, non-partisan grassroots organization
dedicated to defending the human rights of all Virginians. The Right to
Keep and Bear Arms is a fundamental human right.

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