The eyes of the nation will be turned to Richmond, Virginia, on Monday as the annual Lobby Day gathering organized by Virginia Citizens Defense League is set to be exponentially bigger than normal. Draconian gun control laws proposed by the new Democratic legislative majority and pushed by Governor Ralph Northam have prompted multiple gun owners’ rights advocacy groups in and out of the state to converge on Richmond in full force.
“Starting early at 8 am, many will be going in to main halls of the Capitol buildings to lobby Virginia legislators,” said Jill S. McDaniel, founder of Mom-at-Arms and Virginia chapter lead for 1 Million Moms Against Gun Control. “From what I understand there are others who will be going in earlier than that. Around 11 am a protest rally will start.”
Last week, Governor Northam announced a state of emergency that included a weapons ban for Capitol Square during the event. 2nd Amendment activist groups and VCDL challenged the ban, but the state supreme court ruled the Governor’s actions were constitutional on Friday. The Capitol Building itself has a permanent gun ban in place.
Northam indicated last week he’d received credible reports that militant groups, including white supremacist organizations, planned to attend the rally and spark violence that may include an armed assault of the Capitol Building. Three white supremacist members of a group called “The Base” were arrested last week after Northam expressed his concerns.
With tens of thousands of people expected to attend, exposure for the event offers an opportunity to send a very clear message to not only the Virginia legislature but also gun control advocates around the country. But there are risks. Media will be covering the event heavily, and much of the coverage will be dedicated to spinning the event into as negative of a light as possible. It’s imperative that certain things not happen to prevent a positive show of activism that turns into a negative subject as fodder for Democrats’ talking points and mainstream media propaganda. Here are four things that must not happen:
Radical progressives are certain that any time a group of “gun nuts” get together in large enough force, there is certain to be violence. They will point at the Charlottesville incident at the Unite The Right rally in 2017, during which there were many physical altercations. White supremacist James Alex Fields Jr drove through a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather D. Heyer and injuring 19 others.
Nothing like that can happen at this rally. The potential to defuse the left’s narrative disappears the moment things turn violent. It needs to be a peaceful, legal gathering of patriotic defenders of the Constitution who are invoking our 1st Amendment right to defend the 2nd Amendment.
There may be a time in the future when we need to defend the 2nd Amendment by invoking the 2nd Amendment, but that time has not come yet. If we are stalwart in our use of the 1st Amendment, we may never need to face an oppressive government bent on subverting the 2nd.
Nationalizing a state issue
Of the four things that must not happen, this is the one that may seem counter-intuitive. After all, we noted last month how Virginia is a bellwether for the nation. That hasn’t changed and we definitely need to keep associating the national message of fighting Democrats with what’s happening in Virginia. But Lobby Day is not the right venue. This must be a glorious expression of limited-government federalism as citizens of a state that is currently in crisis sort out this mess by expressing the will of the people. Gun owners’ rights are a local, state, and national issue, but Lobby Day should be squarely focused on the state of Virginia.
“When we moved to Virginia in 2016, I never thought I’d end up in the middle of a Constitutional fight like this, but here I am, almost like I was meant to be here,” said Sam Janney, Editor at Twitchy. “And I can’t think of a more important place to be than shoulder-to-shoulder standing with other Virginians defending our inherent right to bear arms.”
In the aftermath of the event, attention can be turned again to the national debate and taken up by the rest of the nation, but this is Virginia’s day. The focus must remain on defending their rights. Don’t worry. The Trump campaign will make sure to invoke Virginia as a microcosm of America and a warning against the obtuse policies Democrats want to impose on us all.
Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia. That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away. Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you Dems!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 17, 2020
Just as there are times when a state message must supersede the national message, so too are there times when the argument must focus on the Constitution instead of intellectual perspectives. This is such a time. Gun owners’ rights advocates often use facts to fight gun control because conservatives have the truth on our side. But for Lobby Day, the attention and messaging must cut to the heart of the matter. We have a right to keep and bear arms. Virginia’s Democrats want to systematically take that right away. For this event, we need only one reason to object to what Democrats there are trying to do: Because the Constitution says we must.
“The major difference in those who push gun control and those of us who value liberty is that gun control activists give fear power over them and because they are oppressed by it, they push it onto everyone else,” said McDaniel. “Misery loves company. Those of us who love our liberties and freedoms as Americans choose to be empowered and not let fear overcome us.”
Bad optics from white supremacists
It’s fortunate that this event falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Just as he fought for rights, so too are Virginia patriots fighting for their rights. Besides, many people are off that day, allowing for the event to swell even more than it would have if not for the holiday.
But there’s also a risk. White supremacist groups are allegedly converging on the event. While many of them are also gun owners’ rights advocates, the core of their messaging is often associated with bigotry, and this messaging must not be attached to the point of the event. There is no way to stop them from co-opting the event to spread their hateful message if they choose to do so; we cannot pick and choose which opinions are put on display. Nevertheless, the first racist sign mainstream media finds will become the centerpiece of their reporting on the event. If this can be avoided without infringing on anyone’s 1st Amendment right, that would be ideal.
There is also the risk of radical progressive plants pretending to be conservative activists. Again, there’s not much that can be done to stop them other than making our righteous messaging in defense of the Constitution louder and much more visible.
Patriots must stay the course and put forth proper messaging that remains on point. We must turn attention away from the bad optics that some groups may intend to inject into the event.
The Virginia rally can be the launching point for gun owners’ rights advocacy across the nation as the citizens of the state rightly defend the Constitution. Challenges must be faced. Risks must be mitigated. The 2nd Amendment must be protected.
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