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By Dennis Petrocelli, MD

Virginians have the opportunity soon to vote for candidates for all of the seats in the General Assembly—both Delegates and State Senators. Millions of dollars are pouring in from out-of-state in a shameless attempt to hijack the election and shift the political orientation of the Commonwealth from red to blue. Second Amendment infringements1 hawked by confiscationists2 are at the top of the list of issues presently.

It was in this political frenzy that I had the opportunities, first, to have an email exchange, and then a live conversation, with a well-meaning but deeply misled incumbent Republican state senator. Shockingly he’s in the “race of his life” against a candidate that might as well be running as a socialist.

The focus of our conversation was his support for “red flag laws.” His mailed flyer highlights a talking-point about “keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people”, which apparently is the code phrase for those in the know for “red flag laws.”

The flyer was disingenuous on many levels. The bill contemplated in Virginia doesn’t define what constitutes dangerousness. Studies so far indicate that up to 20 confiscations are needed to stop one suicide,3 which means that in addition to the one dangerous person, 19 non-dangerous people (and the families they protect) are rendered defenseless. There isn’t any solid evidence that any homicides were prevented by the law first implemented in the late 1990s.

I emailed the senator this information, as well as my contention that these bills are as yet untested before the Supreme Court, but have multiple constitutional deficiencies, chiefly a complete lack of due process. He replied that his edits to the bill remedied these problems, and that “red flag laws” are supported by a large swath of the electorate and the National Rifle Association.

Additionally, and even more shockingly, he contended that since these bills are modeled after warrants and domestic violence protection orders, they have to be constitutional by association.

Fortunately I had the opportunity to meet with the senator in person. I reiterated my objections to the bills, and pointed out that the NRA actually drafted what reads like a mental health civil commitment statute that secondarily considers firearms—nothing remotely similar to current and proposed “red flag laws.” The forces behind “red flag laws” specifically want mental health left out of them, both for fear of stigmatizing the mentally ill, and wanting to facilitate confiscation from a much larger group of gun owners.

As for popular support, most polls ask, “Do you support legislation that would keep dangerous people from accessing firearms?” Most people who aren’t familiar with the details of these bills reply “Yes”. I suggested that respondents might answer differently once they’ve read the bills. Finally, given that these bills infringe on an inalienable right, I found the “constitutional by association” argument wanting.

After listening, he replied in the end “You’d be worse off with the other candidate.” This earned him an election “red card”—immediate ejection from the game.


His reasoning seemed to be that since I’d be worse off with the other candidate I should compromise and accept his proposed infringements. Not a chance.

That logic leads to a gradual, steady and entirely unacceptable erosion of our inalienable rights. Although plenty of political issues are up for debate, chiseling away at rights I was born with isn’t one of them. If that renders me a “single issue” voter, so be it. That “single issue”, the inalienable right to defend myself, is absolutely necessary to defend all my other rights.

This candidate forgets that voting isn’t a forced choice exercise: I can stay home, and demonstrate that the “winner” “won” with less participation, and begin shifting my efforts to the other two branches of government. I can write in a candidate, to demonstrate my dissatisfaction with the political machinery in play. I’m not a captive voter, and it’s disturbing that this candidate doesn’t understand that.

This appears to be an early manifestation of a systemic malady, “Potomac fever.. It begins with assertions of government power over the governed, replacing the consent of the governed with the coerced acquiescence of the governed. It can progress all the way to end-stage “Potomac fever”, characterized by tyrannical outbursts such as calls for confiscation of weapons by police, taxation, and  overreaching presidential executive orders.

If caught early enough, it can be managed in the voting booth, along with the checks and balances built into our constitutional form of government. Our Founders recognized that the right to bear arms is a critical deterrent of and a fail-safe remedy for tyranny, and therefore made sure that this inalienable right “shall not be infringed”.

In the 1700s “well regulated” meant “in good working order”, imbued with the qualities needed to function well. The militia of the people wasn’t conscripted, but freely chose to participate in becoming well trained.

At the same time, the system of checks and balances should ordinarily right things. The people’s ultimate ability to resist tyranny provides the means to take back the government and return it to a “well regulated” condition if those checks and balances fail. And our uniquely durable experiment in self-government gets regulated by the voters with each and every election.

This election season, I bid all my fellow gun owners: “Stay well regulated!”



I refuse to use phraseology from the 1984 Newspeak Dictionary. Gun control describes trigger discipline and the related physical handling of firearms. “Gun control” in common usage today means infringing on my rights and so I refer to it directly as such.

 Politicians, “public health” officials, and well-meaning but uninformed citizens who want in some way or another to come between law-abiding citizens and the possession and use of their self-selected firearms are “confiscationists”, regardless of how they self-identity.

3 The researchers used an ad hoc statistical measure to arrive at this number, so the actual number of confiscations to prevent one suicide could be even greater.


Dennis Petrocelli, MD is a clinical and forensic psychiatrist who has practiced for nearly 20 years in Virginia. He took up shooting in 2019 for mind-body training and self-defense, and is joining the fight for Virginians’ gun rights.

This article originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission. 

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  1. All forms of Red Flag laws are un Constitutional,I wonder if the president has a new found empathy for Due Process.

    • The thing about a red flag law is, if we think a person is dangerous enough to deprive them of their property, then we MUST also believe them dangerous enough to deprive them of their freedom. Depriving a person of freedom, i.e. prison, in the US, requires evidence (not hearsay), criminal activity (not bad thoughts), and due process (not secret confiscation court).

      A red flag law that takes these into account might actually pass constitutional muster. Then again, it would probably look just like existing laws related to criminal behavior… which would make it a much less useful confiscation tool for the anti-gun left and their useful idiots on the right.

  2. “…pointed out that the NRA actually drafted …”
    In what way is the NRA actually relevant to any current day conversation concerning RTKBA? (Rhetorical question in case you don’t take my meaning.)

    “His reasoning seemed to be that since I’d be worse off with the other candidate I should compromise and accept his proposed infringements.” Democrat/RINO same/same. RINO is gonna RINO.

  3. “You’d be worse off with the other candidate” was and remains the only benefit of the current President over a continuation of the Clinton dynasty.

    • Wrong……his judges and justices are an important reason he needed to beat the clinton crime family……..we need him in office another 4 years because there may very well be 2-3 replacements on the Supreme Court, not to forget all the lower court appointments………any vote for a democrat is a vote to end the 2nd Amendment.

      • 2aGuy,

        I would also add that any failure to vote for a candidate who will install Second Amendment friendly judges is a vote to end the Second Amendment.

      • Donald Trump is not the only human being on earth who would nominate excellent judges. Half(ish) of the republican candidates in 2016 would have nominated the same kind of judges as he has. Trump is where he is because of other factors, most of them related to his rare and welcome willingness to unmask the media and the left for what they are. Good stuff, but he comes with a lot of baggage.

        A lot.

        • However he was the only declared Rep candidate the could beat Hellery. Witness the demtards incredible efforts to destroy the man.

          I was a Ted Cruz backer thru the Iowa caucus/primary season. I was wrong. Ted would not have won.

  4. Should mentioned who this candidate is so anyone looking to vote in the Virginia election can make sure not to vote for them. It can be tough to vote when you are in NJ, where both candidates are not exactly friends to gun rights. I chose not to compromise my rights with either Democrats or Republicans and now chose to vote Libertarian.

    • NJ…will never go back. I lived in Jackson Township, Metuchen, Woodbridge, and Ramapo. Good memories in some of those places, but, NJ has gone so far toward big government and so far away from the US Constitution, and has gotten so expensive that I will never return. Most of my family is still there, but, they are far left and don’t want to see me that often…so, it all works out.

      • Same here.
        Left NJ in the ’90 (Morris and Ocean Counties), most of my family is still there (I’m youngest of 5 children).
        The last few years in Ocean county you could not even go out to the beach due to the thug police, brought in to handle all the lawless people being bussed into the beach areas. It actually came out that S’side Heights & S’side Park were hiring LEOs that had been FIRED from agencies all over the NE, many due to excessive force. No wonder the area is a total S’hole now.

        • Yes, Seaside used to be nice. I was the night manager for a restaurant called “The Runaway Bay” in Normandy Beach. That is how I paid for college. It used to be peaceful and safe. The police never bothered us, even when we were drinking beer on the beach while watching the sun rise. Like I said, night manager.

  5. Since Dr. Petrocelli is with DRGO, perhaps he can answer a question I’ve had for some time.

    How does DRGO (Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership) define “Responsible”? It is, after all, a subjective term open to interpretation by people on all sides of this issue. And specifically what is Dr. Petrocelli’s definition of the term?

    Who decides what is “responsible gun ownership”? The govt? Society at large? Somebodies favorite deity? Me?

    I’ll also note that the 2A does not include or imply the term, or the generally accepted concept.

    • Indeed. It’s like having a “Painters for Responsible Speech and Journalism” group. Reminds me of the joke with the punchline, “God doesn’t think he is a doctor”.

    • Could be using phraseology against the confiscationists.

      I see their acronym and can’t help but think Dr. No the bond movie.

      • There is no definition of the term on the DRGO site that I could find. Perhaps Dan Zimmerman could answer the question I posed in lieu of the DRGO or the author of the piece. I’m quite sure “the confiscationists” will have a different definition, and until we all agree on this and other definitions, it’s pointless to continue “having discussions” on ownership, carry, etc. between the sides. Might as well just go for the end game.

  6. This may be foolish…… the time to go after these republicans is during primaries… do not ever allow democrats a win, because while this moron republican is an idiot….he could be persuaded to not vote for these bills…..a democrat will not only vote for them, they will actively, vigorously, try to expand them. Any vote for a democrat is a vote to end the 2nd Amendment….and as big an idiot as these morons are, the time to deal with them is not when they are up against the democrat…..primary them, but keep the democrat out of office……

  7. Also…….it is time to protect President Trump……he may have the opportunity to appoint 2-3 new Supreme Court Justices…..ginsburg’s replacement, possibly Thomas, and maybe one more of the left wingers….. he is also putting judges on the left wing circuit courts….so again, in 2020, any vote for a democrat, for any office, will help to end the 2nd Amendment…….hold your nose, keep them out. If you want to defeat magazine bans, rifle bans, and red flag laws……keep out the democrats, keep Trump in office, vote out rinos in primaries…..and send a message that democrats who are against guns will not get elected…that is how we stopped this crap in the 1990s, and the democrats who got kicked out of office became afraid to address any gun control…they need to be taught that lesson again….over and over again….

    • 2AGUY,

      YES!!! Trump (with the help of Mitch McConnell) has been doing a great job of putting the judiciary back on a Constitutionally-based course. These appointments will continue through his next term and serve as a strong check on the left even beyond Trump’s next term.

  8. @Dan Z

    🙂 Didn’t think you would, but had to ask. 😉

    Still, I believe the question of definitions as applied to firearms, and the 2A generally, is important enough to warrant serious consideration and discussion on it’s own merits.

    It’s easy enough to quote Webster, but attaching a volatile subject like firearms merely dances around the issue at hand.

  9. THIS IS OFF-SUBJECT, but…..there is a site called ” ATLAS SURVIVAL SHELTERS ” ….which I watched today, in which there was a comparison of cost of home-made pvc containers for storing ( burying ) guns, ammo, etc. vs purchasing a ready-made unit. It was a very informative video, and in the end, he decided it was better to buy a ready-made unit, instead of making one out of pvc. He showed several different types and sizes that are available commercially.

    I would suggest that anyone who might be contemplating ” hiding ” guns, ammo, cash, or anything else they want to have available in case the time comes when the SHTF, take the time to watch the video. He demonstrates some good products which would serve the intended purpose well.

  10. … talking-point about “keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people”.

    Any time someone brings up that talking point, politely shut them down immediately: no government action will actually keep firearms out of the hands of a truly dangerous person, period. A truly dangerous person can easily steal firearms, purchase them in private transactions from “good” people, purchase them in private transactions from criminals, make their own, borrow them from someone, retrieve firearms that they hid offsite before any police raid, etc. etc. etc.

    Given that any law which claims to “keep gun out of the hands of dangerous people” is demonstrably unable to achieve its stated goal, and given that any such law radically infringes on several of our constitutionally protected rights, any such law should never be passed in the first place and vigorously opposed if passed anyway.

  11. What needs to be done is pass laws that for bids any elected or appointed offices to fool with the constitution’s set by our forefathers, and anyone who violates these laws loose all rights to be a citizen of America, and must exit this country within a week and never be able for reinstatement, into the home of the free. Then an only then will they see just how good freedom is with rights to have things you care about, want and need.

  12. “Well-regulated” STILL means “in good working order.”

    If you’ve ever worked with machinery or technology, you know important a regulating device can be. That hasn’t changed at all since the 1700s.

    What has changed since then is politics, where it’s an Orwellian synonym for strangling something to death.

  13. What I fail to understand is how people who can not read run for any public office and be ELECTED. When I was in eighth grade the principal didn’t believe in corporeal punishment. (way back then a wooden paddle with holes drilled thru it to cut down on air resistance was normal punishment) His idea was to inflict education into the game. He would make us unruly children copy the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America by hand in legible script. The number of said copies depended on his judgment of the alleged offense. I recall 500 times each being my average sentence that occurred monthly. Up until about ten years ago when I had a stroke I could quote them both verbatim. When the papers were turned in he would ask first did you understand what you had copied and then proceed to ask specific questions about the documents. A failure to answer correctly would get you the opportunity to make more copies. So if thirteen years old unruly children knew and understood the Bill of Rights what is the problem with the adults. I refuse to vote for imbeciles, let them fight out who won on the White House lawn and the state capital of Georgia. And I shall exercise my rights as I choose and when I choose. And damn the executioner.

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