Second Amendment advocates rallied in Richmond, VA ahead of the Special Session of the Virginia legislature to show their support of the right to bear arms, reported NBC12.com. They join a diverse group of demonstrators in the Virginia capital, all looking to make sure their issues are heard by lawmakers.
The previous session of the Virginia legislature resulted in the passage of universal background checks and a one-handgun-a-month-law. The initiatives were strongly supported by Democratic Governor Ralph Northam.
Gun-rights advocates were vocal in their displeasure with the recent actions to curtail Second Amendment rights in Virginia. Mike Dunn, a demonstrator at the Richmond rally said, “The only thing that can protect your right to be free is firearms. Firearms protect the First Amendment and, like I said, firearms protect the Constitution in its entirety. We support that. We want all the rights for all the people, all of the time. That’s why we are here today,” according to One America News Network. Another unidentified protestor said, “People are sick and tired of all age groups. …All are out here for one reason: they are sick and tired of freedom getting stripped for no reason, so that the government can have more power. So they can have more influence, so they can do more when we want them to do less.”
The issue of gun control may be a very influential one in the upcoming presidential election. First time gun buyers accounted for 40% of all gun sales this year according to data compiled by the National Sports Shooting Foundation (NSSF). This is a sharp increase from the usual 25% of first-time gun buyers, according to Fox News. The upswing in gun purchases has been attributed to the coronavirus pandemic and the violent demonstrations across the nation after the death of George Floyd while in police custody at the end of May.
Gun rights activist Phil Watson said of new gun owners, “The huge surge in millions of new gun owners will no doubt have a huge impact on politics in years to come. Long-term, it doesn’t bode well for politicians that don’t support a strong Second Amendment. Many new gun buyers were surprised they couldn’t walk out of the store with a gun without filling out paperwork and going through background checks. This likely doesn’t bode well for public support of harsher gun laws, as new buyers are discovering the truth for themselves behind a lot of deceptive political rhetoric.”
Another critical factor in new gun ownership is the increase in black, Hispanic, and Asian gun ownership. Derrick Morgan, director of the Black Gun Owners Association, said there may be serious political repercussions as a result of new African-American gun owners. “We will see if it will have an impact on politics as it did in the late ’60s in California when the Black Panthers for self-defense openly carry rifles in protest,” he said. “African Americans seek out organizations like ours, where they feel their voices will be heard.”
“We have seen such an overwhelming increase in membership mainly from women and novice gun owners looking to acquire training that we offer through our partnership with certified instructors,” continued Morgan. “Right around the time of the COVID-19 quarantine and protesting, our servers crashed with overwhelming amounts of new members and people wanting to access services, joining gun clubs, and looking for training. People who would’ve not otherwise considered owning a gun began to see the importance of becoming their own first responder.”
Other groups also demonstrating before the special legislative session included those pushing for greater school funding, rent relief, and the enacting of the Marcus Alert System (MAS). MAS, named for Marcus-David Peters, a black man shot by Richmond police in 2018, would require a mental health professional to accompany police when responding to incidents.