Sunday, March 22, 2020

VA-ALERT: VCDL's Historic Lobby Day 2020, Part 1 of 6

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VCDL Lobby Day 2020

This is Part 1 in a six part series documenting VCDL's Lobby Day 2020, which was held on January 20, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia.  The world exploded in November 2019 and, with the General Assembly wrapping up, I am just now at a place where I can begin to cover that extraordinary event!

The remaining parts of this series will be coming out over the next few weeks.


Philip Van Cleave

Part 1. Prelude: Immediately after the 2019 election, Democrats declare war on gun owners and the Virginia political map changes color, from mixed red and blue, to pretty much solid green


VCDL had been screaming to anyone who would listen, that the election in November 2019 was not going to be business as usual.  It was going to be absolutely critical, more than ever before, that gun owners support pro-gun candidates and vote.  

Unfortunately, too many gun owners either weren't registered to vote, were "too busy" to vote, thought their vote "wouldn't count," or simply were not listening or paying attention to what was going on around them.

Mostly through court gerrymandering,  the Democrats squeaked out a win in the election, giving them a narrow, but complete, control of everything.  They (and Michael Bloomberg, who bought them) now owned the House of Delegates, the Senate, the Governor's office, the Lt. Governor's office, and the Attorney General's office.  

There was no longer a firewall at all to protect Virginia's gun owners from whatever horrendous gun control might be introduced in the General Assembly in January, 2020.  The only hope was the courts would uphold the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions - a fight that could take years and would be extremely expensive.

And the Democrats wasted no time in making it clear that law-abiding gun owners were going to get hit, and hit hard.  

Michael Bloomberg wanted the millions of dollars he had donated to help Democrats win their elections, be repaid by passing strong gun-control in Virginia.

Besides paying back Bloomberg, there were two other reasons Governor Northam had made gun control a major agenda item.  The Governor wanted to take attention away from his racism, and even more importantly, comments he had made during a radio interview where he came out in support of state-sanctioned murder of babies who survived an abortion and were born.  

Dr. Mengele would have been proud of Northam's calm and clinical description of how the murder of a living baby would be performed.  But Virginians, even those who are pro-choice, were disgusted and horrified.

So to begin implementing Northam's agenda, Senator Dick Saslaw pre-filed SB 16, which redefined "assault weapons" to cover a wide variety of common, semi-automatic firearms and outlawed all of them.  SB 16 also banned magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, suppressors, and bump stocks.  After July 1, 2020, all those items would be contraband and the state would not compensate gun owners for them, even if destroyed or turned over to the police.  Mere possession of those items after July 1 would be a FELONY.  SB 16 was a top agenda-item for Bloomberg.

Law-abiding gun owners, who had legally bought their guns and had no intention of harming anyone who was not trying to harm them, could have their firearms confiscated and be headed to prison.

Other bills to pacify Bloomberg included: One Handgun a Month, Universal Background Checks, Red Flag laws, prohibitions on children having access to firearms, drastically reducing reciprocity with other states, more restrictions on ranges, and allowing local government to have complete control over the possession, carry, transportation, and storage of firearms!  That wasn't all the bills, either.


About the time of the election, the Carroll County Board of Supervisors did the first Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution, followed shortly by Campbell County doing the same thing.  

We realized the potential of such resolutions in the upcoming battle in the General Assembly in January.  The resolutions, if there were enough localities doing them, would get the attention of the General Assembly.  The resolutions would also encourage sheriffs and police departments not to enforce unconstitutional gun laws and Commonwealth Attorneys not to prosecute those in violation of those laws.  Finally, sanctuary localities would be very unlikely to enact any local gun control if given the chance to do so by the General Assembly.

It was a win, win, win, and VCDL jumped in with both feet.  

VCDL developed a model Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution that was provided to localities which were considering, or being asked to consider, passing such a resolution.  We helped coordinate with local members to get the word out about upcoming Board of Supervisor, City Council, and Town Council meetings. The idea was to create large turnouts in support of the locality becoming a sanctuary.

The results were better than we had dreamt possible.  Between local grassroots efforts and VCDL's membership participation and coordination, we were seeing turnouts of between 500 to 600 people at local government meetings that were lucky to have 10 people there normally, and 50 on an incredibly busy night!  Meeting rooms were overflowing, phones ringing off the walls, and email in-boxes jammed.

My first interaction with the coming tidal wave was early into the movement when I attended my first sanctuary meeting, which was in Amherst County on November 19, 2019.  It had taken a few hours for me to drive there and I needed to "hit the head" after having a diet drink on the way up.  I thought that I would simply park my car in the Amherst government building parking lot and run in to use the restroom.  

When I got close to the meeting, my jaw dropped.  Crowds of people were crossing the street to get to the meeting.  The parking lot was full, the building was overflowing, with the crowd outside the building wrapping around the parking lot, and that was well before the meeting was scheduled to start!  So much for "running in" to use the restroom and then getting a seat in the meeting room!  I would be lucky to get in the building...

I brought a roll of 1,000 Guns Save Lives stickers and they were handed out to those in attendance.  Thanks to the efforts of ex-Speaker of the House of Delegates, Vance Wilkins, I got into the building and was given the chance to address the Board of Supervisors.  The size of that meeting was probably 500 to 600.  This photo shows the large meeting room on the left, filled to capacity, with a crowd filling the hallway, staircase, foyer, extending out the door, and around the parking lot:

The next night I attended the Amelia County meeting.  When I arrived, I realized that this was going to be a big turnout, too - I was elated!  Sure enough, there were over 600 people at that meeting.  I had the opportunity to address both the Board of Supervisors AND the large overflow crowd outside the building.  Senator Amanda Chase and Delegate John McGuire also addressed the crowd.  Like the gun owners in Amherst, the Amelia crowd was motivated.  It was absolutely wonderful to behold.  This photo shows part of the crowd outside.  The meeting room and hallway were filled to capacity, too:

At first the Democrats said that this was an "Appalachian thing" and it wouldn't spread.

But they were wrong.  Places like Virginia Beach, Fauquier County, Prince William County, Spotsylvania County, and Amelia County started looking at becoming sanctuaries.  The Appalachia theory dried up and blew away.  Crowd sizes were now up to at least 1,000 at local government meetings.

Starting to feel a little panicky, the gun controllers were writing letters to the editor criticizing VCDL and saying that the sanctuaries were no big deal and would have no affect.  

That didn't deter the movement, either.  More localities came sanctuaries and the crowd sizes were between 1,000 and 1,500.  That "no big deal" had taken on a life of its own.

The movement began spreading like a wildfire and real panic set it for the Democrats.  Congressman McEachin did one of the dumbest political stunts I have seen in a long time.  He decided to throw gasoline on a roaring fire to put it out.  He told the press that the Governor could call out the National Guard to force localities to enforce new state gun laws.

At the same time to help slow down or stop the sanctuary movement, Senator Saslaw talked down his own bill - SB 16.  He said that he had forgot to put in "grandfathering" that would allow gun owners to keep their semi-automatic firearms if they registered them, but no new sales would be allowed.  Larger magazines, suppressors, and bump stock will still have to be destroyed or surrendered, though.

Instead of being intimidated at the thought of the National Guard being called out, or selfishly giving in so that they could keep their semi-automatic guns, while denying the next generated of gun owners that same right, gun owners now showed up in record crowds of 2,000 to 3,000+ people!  They filled and overflowed large gymnasiums, with traffic alerts going out at 7 and 8 pm due to country roads being jammed in all directions!

I was so damned proud of every one of those patriots!  Because of their efforts, now sanctuaries were popping up across the state almost daily.  Sometimes six or more at a time!

Here is part of the attendance at the Bedford County meeting:

And about a quarter of the Rockingham County attendance:

The wildfire continued to burn across the state, until 96% of the counties and 94% of the state were sanctuaries.  That number continues to grow.  Currently there are 147 sanctuaries!

The map of Virginia is now almost totally green (the sanctuary color), including many areas that tend to vote Democrat.  The message was clear, with both Democrats and Republicans hearing it.  The Republican Party actually woke up in the middle of the movement and began registering tons of new voters at these hearings.  The number of speakers topping over 100 in some 
cases.  The gun controllers were pretty much no shows at these hearings.

(Thanks to member Rick Sandlin for the map.)

The one attempt at repealing a sanctuary status fails

After the election in November, the incoming Board of Supervisors in Prince William County was now predominantly controlled by Democrats.  The new chairwoman vowed she would repeal the County's sanctuary resolution, passed in December by the previous Board, as the first order of business in early January.  

When that meeting finally came, the new Board moved the time of the meeting from the evening to 2 pm, in the middle of the work day, to minimize attendance by gun owners.

It didn't work.  Thousands of gun owners flooded the building and over 120 of them spoke against any such repeal!  The shocked Board voted to drop the repeal from their agenda, much to the chagrin of the chairwoman, and Prince William County continued to remain a sanctuary!

The Lobby Day countdown begins

VCDL's Lobby Day 2020 was now around the corner and grassroots activism across the state had set the stage for the upcoming fight against tyranny in the General Assembly.

I stood in complete awe at what had transpired since November and humbled at the immense trust that had been placed in VCDL, not only by Virginians, but Americans across the country, to lead that fight.

Last thought:  Did Virginia have to go through this?

Sadly, I believe we all had to go through this "purgatory" in order to wake up enough gun owners from their sound sleep to actually affect a powerful and lasting change in Virginia.  

The House, the Governor, the Lt. Governor, and the Attorney General positions are all up for grabs in 2021.  Personally, I can't wait for 2021 to get here!  

If we all hang together, the political retribution for the war on gun owners will be a marvel to behold!  Payback will be coming and the General Assembly will once more be reminded that gun control is a third-rail that is best not touched.

We dare not fail at this.

Upcoming parts in this series on VCDL's Lobby Day 2020


Part 2. Preparation: as the expected Lobby Day attendance skyrockets and VCDL's infrastructure is pushed to the limit, panicky gun-controllers attempt to minimize the rally or even get it cancelled altogether!


Part 3. The cage: more last minute deterrents created to slow down or stop Lobby Day.  Courts take a spineless position on violations of state law by the Governor


Part 4. Lobby Day 2020 arrives and the deterrents failed:  an eye-popping, 100% peaceful event, with a massive turnout of patriots determined to save the Commonwealth from tyranny


Part 5. Postscript: the positive effects of Lobby Day 2020 on the upcoming 2020 and 2021 elections, gun-control bills in the General Assembly, and the perception of gun owners in the press


Part 6. Lobby Day 2020 articles, blogs, photos, and videos: wall-to-wall coverage of that historic event!

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