Every year we drive to Richmond to meet with our state representatives to discuss our opinions of the upcoming legislation for the session. All types of lobby groups are there, but VCDL tends to draw the largest crowd.
We didn’t drive down early because of an upcoming house purchase and trying to save money. I’d wanted to visit the Richmond Zoo, but with how cold the weather was, I wouldn’t have wanted to walk around in that anyways…hopefully later this year. I mean they have penguins!
So we drove down that morning, and I immediately regretted not wearing a scarf. It was freezing out, cold and chilly! I tied my hood around my face, and shivered while waiting in line. But, I think my right to defend myself is worth it.
Usually we are able to meet with many legislators or their aides, but most of our representatives seemed busy this year. We’ve met with them in previous years, so we signed their guest books and moved on.
This year we had probably the most interesting meeting that I’ve ever had in the 6 years of our participation in this event. We managed to be able to meet with Senator Marsden. Right before Lobby Day he received a lot of VCDL member’s attention with this lovely sign:
It reads “Welcome gun lobby day members I know you mean well. But, if it isn’t too much trouble, please stop trying to save our lives…Too many people are getting killed in the effort.”
Firstly, I will say that I appreciated Senator Marsden’s honesty and the fact that he was still willing to meet with VCDL members. In fact, I think he met with multiple groups this day likely saying much of the same thing. Many legislators who disagree with VCDL and gun rights purposely hid away in meetings or are out of the building when we visit, so I think it says a lot that he was willing to continue the conversation.
He was upfront about his beliefs that we need “common sense gun control” etc. The room was filled with tension as he continued to say things like, “I don’t think any of you have enough training to be carrying those.” It is insulting. He didn’t know any of us, and likely several of them have more training than police officers who only have to qualify once a year.
Disappointingly, and I think because we were in such a big group, there wasn’t a single spokesperson which wasn’t conducive to as useful as a discussion as I would have liked to have. Gun rights, or gun control and trying to save lives is an issue that both “sides” are so passionate about it makes it difficult to have the most rational conversations at times.
My husband tried to calmly enter the discussion. While others may have seen his hand raise as a submission gesture I think it showed a level of control and discipline. He brought up a great question asking explaining his own experience, “I have all of the experience and training that you are specifying, so what do I gain as a gun owner, with this back ground check bill that you are trying to pass?” To which he did not have a good answer, and simply dodged the question.
Then, we joined everyone outside for the rally. Because VCDL wants to showcase a greater diversity of our membership (we aren’t all older men who look like we are from Duck Dynasty) , I was asked to hold a sign. We aren’t allowed to use posts or flag poles (yet we can carry weapons?!) so I wore it across me.
One of my favorite speakers of the day (I’m already so over the presidential campaigns) was from a young African American woman named, Shaneen Allen. A few years ago she was arrested in NJ as she wasn’t aware of their gun law, volunteered that information after being profiled, and had to fight tooth and nail to have the charges dropped. It was amazing to meet her and hear her story.
We still have so much work today, but so far we seem to be making progress as the reciprocity reversal is being overturned. If you aren’t a member of VCDL you should be!
Oh, this little cutie was my favorite, and we are pretty sure she was the youngest person there fighting for our rights.