I’ve been going to the General Assembly on Jan 21st since 2010 in partnership with Virginia Citizen’s Defense League to lobby against gun control bills, and for bills that would grant firearms owners/carriers more freedom. Of all those years, this year is one of the most important years to have gone. This year there were several anti gun bills that we were working to defeat. ‘
This year, husband decided that we would stay at a hotel on Sunday night to be able to arrive on time Monday morning! We obtained a cheaper reservation at a hotel using hotwire.com and ended up staying at a Best Western. I was very entertained by this, as it meant that I actually got to watch “Once Upon a Time” when it aired!
For dinner we stopped at a restuarant near where we were staying called “Steak and Shake” I’d never heard of it before, but apparently it is a NC classic. We ended up with several plates of chili cheese fries because they forgot they brought us the appetizer.
The next morning we began the festivities with an open carry breakfast at The River City Diner. There were about 20 or so open carriers, decorated in orange “Guns Save Lives” stickers, and decorating the waitresses with them as well. I ordered pancakes and bacon, while the husband chatted up some new friends. He met a peace officer and they discussed alcohol laws regarding home brews etc.
Before making our way to the capitol, we decided to return now to the hotel for my dress shirt, so we didn’t have to get it later. I know, I know, that is why you do not hang stuff up in the closet. However, I just wanted it to be wrinkle free, then ended up wearing the other shirt.
Upon arrival to the General Assembly building it was about 9am and there was a giant line of people waiting to be wanded in. In previous years those with bags were stuck in the longest line, but me with the camera bag entered the building first.
We began with a larger group, but then ended up forming our own smaller group, as we always do. Our group represented various districts around the state, and of course we attempted to meet with the legislators in an unorganized fashion. Up and down the stairs we traveled all day, as the elevators are filled with others.
Generally speaking it is most common to meet with the legislative aides, as the actual legislators are in session or meetings. It is most importantly a numbers game, and the aide will pass that information on.
One of the main bills that we were championing was that by Delegate Bob Marshall who has drafted HB2340. This states that Virginia would not comply with Federal gun control legislation/acts issued after 12/31/12. In Virginia it is unlikely that gun control or magazine limits would pass, unlike the way that they are being pushed through in NY. Thus, Virginia would be protected if Obama decided to issue an unconstitutional executive order banning firearms. We decided to stop by his office to thank him for writing the bill and met his wife and aide, and were rewarded with flyers about the bill. We proceeded to hand those out to all of the representatives that we met.
As an aside husband would usually end our talks with asking them/informing them about Constitutional Carry, a measure that was recently passed in Arizona that simply states that one’s concealed carry permit is the Constitution and therefore no other permit is needed to be obtained. While the permit may make people feel safer, it is simply a cosmetic difference (between open carry and concealed carry), and would remove the extra hindrances that delay someone being able to conceal carry. Many of the legislators did not fully understand this measure, and were worried about safety, with the recent image of delegate Joe Morrissey brandishing a rifle while his finger is on the trigger. Joking about him made for great camaraderie among us.
Usually at 11 am we would meet on the lawn next to the bell tower to have a rally, this year Philip Van Cleave (president of VCDL) decided that it would be more important to spend that time lobbying and meeting with legislators and their aides. He said though, that everyone missed it, and that they hoped to have the event again next year.
Instead, we had our usual Lobby Day lunch at Gibson’s Grill and sat around talking for hours. It was nice to spend some time chatting and resting our feet!
Afterwards, we returned to the General Assembly for our scheduled meeting with one of our delegates. While waiting for the meeting I decided to practice my DSLR photo taking skills on the gorgeous bouquet on the delegate’s administrative assistant’s desk.
Before returning home we decided to stop by Colonial Shooting Academy a gun store and shooting range lauded as “Gun DisneyLand” by one of our friends. It was a large store, but due to the recent panics it was largely sold out of firearms, and there was a limit to the amount of ammo that could be purchased. There were some pretty jewelry pieces crafted from empty casings.
All in all I would say that our efforts were effective. Even those who did not outright agree with us, took the time to listen to our positions. Those thoughts will continue brewing until we can pass Constitutional Carry in VA. These are the moments that I actually enjoy politics, because it doesn’t seem like the abstract “everyone talking nothing gets done” form of politics. It is actively meeting, telling them what we the citizens wants, and letting them know they’ll get voted out if they don’t comply.