Pro Gun Rally Virginia
Demonstrators stand on the capitol grounds ahead of a pro gun rally, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
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By Alan Suderman and Sarah Rankin, AP

Gun-rights activists — some making deliberate displays of their military-style rifles — began to descend on Virginia’s capital city Monday to protest plans by the state’s Democratic leadership to pass gun-control legislation.

Several thousand activists — mostly white and male, many clothed in camouflage and waving flags with messages of support for President Donald Trump — appeared hours before the 11 a.m. rally was set to begin.

Virginia State police troopers stand near a security checkpoint before demonstrators enter the capitol grounds ahead of a pro gun rally, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Gov. Ralph Northam declared a temporary state of emergency days ahead of the rally, banning all weapons, including guns, from the event on Capitol Square. The expected arrival of thousands of gun-rights activists — along with members of militia groups and white supremacists — raised fears the state could again see the type of violence that exploded in Charlottesville in 2017.

The Virginia State Police, the Virginia Capitol Police and the Richmond Police planned a huge police presence with both uniformed and plainclothes officers. Police limited access to Capitol Square to only one entrance and have warned rally-goers they may have to wait hours to get past security screening. Authorities started letting people in at the sole public entrance just before 7:30 a.m.

A demonstrator stands outside a security zone before a pro-gun rally, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Authorities will be looking to avoid a repeat of the violence that erupted in 2017 in Charlottesville during one of the largest gatherings of white supremacists and other far-right groups in a decade. Attendees brawled with counterprotesters, and an avowed white supremacist drove his car into a crowd, killing a woman and injuring dozens more. Law enforcement officials faced scathing criticism for what both the white supremacist groups and anti-racism protesters said was a passive response.

An RV festooned with Trump material and selling Trump merchandise parked in front of the line to the square, but was booted by a police officer shortly after it parked Monday: “You got two minutes before it’s towed. Clock’s ticking.”

Monday’s rally is being organized by an influential grassroots gun-rights group, the Virginia Citizens Defense League. The group holds a yearly rally at the Capitol, typically a low-key event with a few hundred gun enthusiasts listening to speeches from a handful of ambitious Republican lawmakers. But this year, many more are expected to attend. Second Amendment groups have identified the state as a rallying point for the fight against what they see as a national erosion of gun rights.

Demonstrators stand outside a security zone before a pro gun rally, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Virginia Beach carpenter Andy Kincaid, 59, got up at 2 a.m. to come to Richmond, but said he thinks the number of attendees was probably overstated, as the cold weather and rumors of anti-fascist infiltrators may have kept some away.

The pushback against proposed new gun restrictions began immediately after Democrats won majorities in both the state Senate and House of Delegates in November. Much of the opposition has focused on a proposed assault weapons ban.

Virginia Democrats are also backing bills limiting handgun purchases to once a month, implementing universal background checks on gun purchases, allowing localities to ban guns in public buildings, parks and other areas, and a red flag bill that would allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from anyone deemed to be dangerous to themselves or others.

Kem Regik, a 20-year-old private security officer from northern Virginia, brought a white flag with a picture of a rifle captioned, “Come and take it.”

“I don’t like what the legislature is doing and I’m here to let them know that,” he said.

Jesse Lambert was dressed in mix of colonial era minute-man garb and cargo pants, with an colt rifle strapped across his back. He said he traveled from Louisiana to show opposition to the gun control bills. He said their efforts would unfairly punish law-abiding gun owners, particularly those who own AR-Style rifles.

“These are your average common people carrying firearms that are in common use,” he said.

The rally coincides with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, which is typically a chance for everyday citizens to use a day off work to lobby their legislators. However, the threat of violence largely kept other groups away from the Capitol on Monday, including gun control groups that hold an annual vigil for victims of gun violence.

When that event was canceled, a group of students from March for Our Lives, the movement launched after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, decided they had to do something.

A group of about 15 college students and one high schooler came to Richmond on Sunday and slept overnight in the offices of two Democratic lawmakers to ensure they could make it into the Capitol area safely. Del. Dan Helmer, who’s sponsoring a bill that would block the National Rifle Association from operating an indoor gun range at its headquarters, and Del. Chris Hurst, a gun control advocate whose TV journalist girlfriend was killed in an on-air shooting in 2015, camped out alongside them.

The students planned to spend the day lobbying.

Michael McCabe, a 17-year-old high school senior from northern Virginia, said he started lobbying at the General Assembly after the Sandy Hook mass shooting, when he was 11 years old.

In an interview in Helmer’s office, McCabe said the students wanted to be a voice for other gun-control advocates.

“Our main goal is not to engage with gun extremists today,” McCabe said. “We are really here to be present in the legislature to make our voices heard.”

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  1. So, gun control sponsored kids get a free pass to sleep overnight in a lawmakers office, while all the pro gun folks get nothing. Bias much?

  2. Well of course you don’t want confrontation, of course you want to hear both sides! Can you say BULLS*IT?

  3. The motto of the Sovereign State of Virginia:

    “Sic Semper Tyrannis!”
    (Thus Always To Tyrants!)

  4. Those that are protesting, multiple aircraft are watching and recording as much as possible. If they are taking mega pictures of the entire city, its not terribly difficult to track the origins of every person there. Have entry and exit plans that obfuscate and break line of sight.

    • Anyone besides me notice the proliferation of “good for me, but not for thee” going on in VA right now? The State Police in the photos are all wearing balaclavas that (in addition to protecting from the cold, as some might want to argue) effectively conceal the officers’ faces and prevent recognition.

      Most states and municipalities have laws nowadays prohibiting the public from wearing masks or gear during assembly events that prevent identification. Richmond’s finest are screening all citizens for weapons, masks, and/or other prohibited items before allowing entry into the capital grounds (which are owned by the public), while themselves wearing deadly weapons and masks.

      Hypocrite much, Northam?

  5. Rest easy, the NRA has a bold plan to fight in VA: they will be relocating to GA and introducing a new donation campaign to fund fancy new digs.

  6. “Gun extremists.” 😂😂 Brainwashed peon. How many 17 year old kids do you think would formulate that type of rhetoric on their own?

  7. Huh. I thought Virginia banned face masks. The picture of the police however…

    Guess this is no different than armed guards for the elites only.

    • D Y,

      That photo demonstrates the entire essence of the Ruling Class in a nutshell: rules, policy, standards, and laws only apply to the Working Class and do NOT apply to the Ruling Class (nor their paid enforcers).

      Notice how the Ruling Class supports enforcing the rules and laws even when the rules endanger/harm the Working Class. In this case the cold temperatures could literally cause frostbite and/or hypothermia to rally attendees. No matter: the Working Class is nothing more than a resource for the Ruling Class to use, abuse, exploit, and exhaust at their pleasure.

      • Nice take. I think the term “caste” actually fits better for its connotations.

        It isn’t a strictly economic or place in the economy division. There’s the right people — regardless of what they do, or how much they make, and the wrong people — ditto. You’re born into the in or out-group.

  8. I’d imagine the kids last name being McCabe is no coincidence, and he’s probably the brainwashed little foot soldier for mommy and daddy.

  9. “Our main goal is not to engage with gun extremists today,” McCabe said.

    Sure. The thousands in the streets outside are the extremists. You, the kids who’s been a lobbyist since before puberty, one of 15 personally billeted in a lawmaker’s office, are the mainstream.

    • Congratulations to Associated Press writers Alan Suderman and Sarah Rankin, the authors of the above article.

      You win the Paul Joseph Goebbels award for excellence in the category: propaganda in media!

      Now come to the stage and claim your award, you both deserve it, you made Paul Joseph Goebbels very proud his teachings live on.

  10. These are not the extremists out there in the thousands…. These are the PEOPLE, that our lawmakers apparently forgot that they work for…

  11. Best of luck and good fortune for the good men and women at the rally standing up for our inalienable right to self-defense and our inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.

    Time will tell if this turns out to be an effective strategy.

  12. So without losing your minds and going crazy on me what is really accomplished by this?
    Will it change minds?
    Stop the bills from passing?
    I’m watching many forms of live stuff and I’m not seeing the petitions being passed around to Virginians.
    It just looks like more inaction and posturing which doesn’t move the government.

    • MIO,

      I do not believe this demonstration will move government as a whole to act favorably for firearm ownership.

      I believe it will convince one or two politicians whose re-election is vulnerable to vote in favor of self-defense (firearm ownership).

      And I believe it will motivate some apathetic citizens to get out and vote for pro-self-defense candidates in the next election.

      Who knows, it might even get some people — who never gave it much thought before — thinking about self-defense (firearm ownership) and join our ranks.

      Unfortunately, I do not believe that all of those results combined will be enough to maintain/restore our self-defense rights in Virginia (or anywhere else for that matter).

      • I think it’s drawing so much attention to the issue that more voters in VA and elsewhere will show up to the polls in November. Now we just have to convince all of the commenters here that say they won’t vote because they aren’t 100% satisfied.

        • Those are called “trolls”. Their purpose is to convince others not to vote, they may not even be Americans.

      • Uncommon, I agree, although I sure hope we are wrong. Meanwhile, as a return question, what could it hurt? At least thousands or millions saw Gov. Coonman exposed as a liar or a fool (or both?), and idiot legislators screeching about hiding in secret “safe spaces” to escape … absolutely nothing, except law abiding citizens seeking redress for their grievances. I know they are not intelligent enough to be embarrassed at their own stupidity, but at least these citizens have made it possible for others to see how dramatically they have been lied to. I’d call that a win.

    • Interesting point of view. So what do you recommend, then? That we all just moan and complain here on our keyboards while the Left steamrolls over the Constitution without any resistance from We The People? That we don’t use our right to peaceful assembly to redress our grievances?

      Please, do tell.

      • I Haz a Question,

        I am assuming that you directed your response to MIO.

        While such rallies may be utterly and totally ineffective in terms of convincing government to support our inalienable rights, they do give us the moral high ground if/when the courts also fail us as well. Thus we can say that we petitioned government (legislature and the courts) and government insisted on opposing our inalienable rights. After exhausting peaceful methods to correct our government, we will be justified using force to correct our government.

        Editorial comment:
        Both classic Judeo-Christian faith and atheistic world views support the concept of using force to correct government after peaceful attempts fail. Judeo-Christian faith only orders us to support righteous government which is supposed to protect our rights, uphold justice, and punish evil-doers. And atheistic world views embrace the Natural Selection (survival of the fittest) concept which means we are the fittest and worthy of survival if we are the strongest and eliminate our enemies.

        • I only saw MIO’s comment on my screen when I starting writing my response, which was posted only two minutes after your own. We were apparently writing at about the same time.

          My response was to MIO’s statement that the rally will be ineffectual.

        • “And atheistic world views embrace the Natural Selection (survival of the fittest) concept”

          Where did you get that idea? Could you please direct me to your source for the idea that atheist embrace the idea of survival of the fittest?

        • What is this mythical Judeo-Christ you speak of? Christian values and Jewish Values are not the same.

          None of our founding fathers ever cited the Talmud or its ethnocentrism.

          Rabbinical Judaism developed over the last 2000 years basically in opposition to Christianity.

          When people talk about Judeo-Christian, they really just mean Christian. If you think I’m wrong, please show me how.

        • Miner49er,

          Every committed atheist that I have ever seen, heard, read, or met in person embraces evolution and its attendant position of survival of the fittest.

          And atheists by default must be proponents of evolution since they have no other process to explain life without a benevolent, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent Creator.

        • Truth about JQ,

          What is this mythical Judeo-Christ you speak of? Christian values and Jewish Values are not the same.

          None of our founding fathers ever cited the Talmud or its ethnocentrism.

          Rabbinical Judaism developed over the last 2000 years basically in opposition to Christianity.

          First of all, Jesus the Christ was Jewish, as were his most influential apostles. Thus a Judeo-Christ is most certainly not mythical at all.

          Second of all, while Christian faith and Jewish faith are definitely not the same, their values with respect to the role of government and how people should interact with each other are quite consistent. Remember, Jesus fulfilled the law. Which law? The original law of the Torah: the Ten Commandments. You know, the Ten Commandments which Moses presented to the Jews and recorded for the Jews in the Torah. The very same law which informs and shapes more detailed descriptions of how God wants us to treat each other throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament. To date no appointed, elected, nor credible self-proclaimed Christian nor Jewish faith leader has ever stated that the Ten Commandments and principles embodied in the Ten Commandments are no longer in force.

          What our nation’s Founding Fathers quoted were the very principles embodied in the Ten Commandments as well as the rest of the Old and New Testaments. And remember that the New Testament simply reflects back on the principles laid out in the Old Testament — principles that stand to this day in Christianity and Judaism.

          It is for that very reason that Israel is the sole, enthusiastic, dependable ally of the United States in the Middle East.

        • Greatest ally?

          LOL. When have they ever helped us? We fight their wars for them because of the powerful Jewish lobby in the US.

          USS Liberty? Dancing Israelis on 9/11? Lavan affair?
          Stingrays to spy on us (just got caught last year)? Why is out greatest ally spying on us? Kicking Christian Palestinians out of their homes?

          England or Australia should win greatest ally.

          You have never read the Talmud. You don’t even know what that is. Jews are Christ-deniers, and it is strange and bizarre to venerate them.

        • Mukduk,

          I never said that Israel is the United States’ greatest ally. I simply said that Israel is the United States’, “… sole, enthusiastic, dependable ally … in the Middle East.”

          How has Israel helped the United States? I believe that their primary assistance is gathering and sharing vital intelligence with the United States. I also believe that they help the United States with Special Operations missions. Israel also diverts some of the ire of unfriendly Muslims away from the United States in the Middle East. Keep in mind that we (the unwashed masses) are not privy to most of what our government does and to what extent other governments assist us.

          In terms of surveilling people in the United States (whether with StingRays or otherwise), I don’t doubt for a second that key United States allies (such as the United Kingdom and Israel) surveil us at the invitation of the United States (and then share anything of interest to the United States) as a simple and easy work-around for laws which prohibit the federal government from blanket surveillance without court orders.

          As for kicking Christian Palestinians out of their homes, I have no information on that and cannot comment one way or another. If true, I disapprove.

          Does the Talmud and modern Judaism give us the green light to blaspheme God, disrespect our parents, work through the Sabbath, lie, steal, rape, commit adultry, and murder people? No? Does the Talmud and modern Judaism give government the green light to do those things? No? Sounds like Christianity and Judaism still have the same values.

          “Jews are Christ-deniers …” of course. I never claimed otherwise and I never praised them for that.

          “… and it is strange and bizarre to venerate them.” I am not venerating Jewish faith. I am merely stating how Jewish values and Christian values with respect to government and how we treat each other are very consistent. And I am implying that such values are good for civil society. Nothing more and nothing less.

        • Uncommon, what makes you think this judeo-christ is not mythical? Do you have a video? You’ve been reading children’s books of bedtime stories written 2000 years ago and thinking they are somehow factual, although totally without evidence. Thus you brilliantly understand that the universe is around 6000 years old, never mind that we are currently receiving light that distant stars emitted over 12 billion years ago. There is clearly some mythology involved somewhere.

        • Mukduk, words matter, as does word choice. Some folks use words as if they are a cloud of shotgun pellets while others use them precisely, like a sniper’s bullet or a surgeon’s scalpel. Twisting a sniper’s words into a cloud sheds no light and will not win an argument or gain you any credibility. Actually, it does shed some light, but only onto you….

      • Well they started a petition to remove the governor so why not collect signatures from the actual citizens?
        I’m not saying don’t do anything but why just aimlessly mill around?
        I’m seriously trying to figure out action over inactivity

      • BTW I’m not trying to anger you I’m looking for a better way. This tactic isn’t going to work. So what’s the next one?

        • You’re the one determined that this one not succeed, why don’t YOU tell us what’s next/what will “work”?

        • LarryinTx are you seriously that incapable of holding a conversation? We are supposed to be better than the snowflakes.
          I’ve attended rallies, talked with politicians and done what I can until I retire from service where I can do more in a year in my state. I’m in Oklahoma where we have constitutional carry. How bout you Texas?
          There are actually good comments showing some of the positive along with some anger. It gave me pause for thought though I still believe it’s not going to stop them or change the course.

    • The left doesn’t really believe there are normal, non-violent gun owners. They also don’t believe people really care about their rights.

      A peaceful lobby day that shows them we are their friends and neighbors goes a long way to calm them down.

      A visible show that we’re not crazed supremacists of any kind helps a lot.

      • We have been visibly showing we aren’t extremists for decades. Where has it gotten us? It certainly hasn’t repaired firearm rights in this country.

    • If it goes well, it build morale for our side. If rights keeping getting eroded it shows we tried to do things the nice way first.

    • ” what is really accomplished by this? ”

      It’s pretty easy to piss and moan about something from the comfort of the living room sofa, and just as easy for legislators to ignore it.

      When several thousand people get off their butts and go out in to a cold January morning, travel all the way to Richmond just to tell their legislators they are pissed off, that is not as easy to ignore. Every Democrat up there has got to thinking, at least as a passing thought, that if these people are willing to do that, they can much more easily go to a local polling place and vote me out in the next election.

      Beyond that, it shows that we are not a disjointed and disorganized rabble, we have the numbers and we have the organization to field a fairly well-equipped and committed populist army — which is exactly what 2A is all about. It’s not necessarily about we will pull the trigger. It’s sufficient to demonstrate that we can.

      That’s what we accomplish by this.

    • Petition for what, Gov has not signed any illegal bills into law. It will take over 300,000 VA citizens to recall him. There has never been an elected official recalled in VA. There is/was a bill introduced to raise the 10% of the number who voted for the office in the last election to sign the petition to 25%, just to make sure the perfect record is not broken. Also there is a bill to allow the Gov to serve 8 years vice one 4 year term and done currently on the books. So the left could recycle an oldie but goodie like one of the current US senators from VA, how had the job before, if this one is too toxic by the blackface/hooded yearbook image.

  13. Only 2 live streams on yootoob, one seems to be cut, refusing to show any speakers ( pulled down as hate speech).
    The other soundless aireal shots, everyone leaving fenced area.?
    What’s going on?
    Propaganda, narrative control?
    Tight camera shots of trump flags, any slightly inflammatory signs, to be used in media propaganda hit pieces on the evening news.

      • (cough, cough)

        “aren’t any”… The word “bathrooms” is plural, not singular.

        Sorry, my grammar police OCD kicked in.

      • I bet that’s just an innocent oversight, not any mean spirited effort to make the corraled cattl… I mean people as uncomfortable as possible. Leftists would never do that. …Right?

        • I dunno, they did not seem to have difficulty putting up all that chain-link… Hell, they probably had bathrooms for those workers, had to remove them, then will have to bring them back for the folks who remove the chain-link.

  14. The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.

    WV v. Barnette, 1943
    United States Supreme Court

  15. Some parts of this article read a lot more as though it was written by one of them and not one of us!

    You might have a closet pinko in your editorial midst.

  16. I love seeing the1st amendment being used for what the founders intended. Hopefully it will stop the bullets from flying. And that is the whole idea of the1st amendment.

    • True, but 1A is precisely what Gov. Coonman and the media have been trying their best to stifle for weeks now, the assembly would possibly have been several times as big without all of THEIR threats of violence. The government is supposed to protect such assemblies, not threaten them with violence.

  17. Would that many leftists or progressives show up in that kind of cold? Where is Black Face, he should out in the cold with the cops he ordered?

  18. I was an embarrassing showing…there should have been hundreds of thousands of people… something the media couldn’t ignore.. basically today was a bust.. too bad most gun owners have to work for a living on the weekdays.. and it shouldn’t have been scheduled on a so called national holiday either..

  19. That’s a lot of enraged hillbillies per sq ft. At least they get a chance of meeting and possibly dating a different woman than their cousin.

  20. I’m seeing more than a few MAGA wearing black folks. That has to be terrifying for the left. No wonder they’re trying to hype the white supremacy scare. That’s all they have.

  21. As the rally starts drawing towards the end, reading MSM reports is nauseous.

    Examples- CBS, NBC The rally is peaceful due to heavy “police presence”.

    There is still updated news reporting that there is still chance of violence.

    (USA Today) reporting an interview stating that the gun owners are taking things too far and the Governor hasn’t said anything about confiscating guns.

    Watching one of the few live feeds left on Youtube. Lucky 43113(Britebart) is interviewing a group of African American teens dressed in MAGA gear and now that feeds gone.

  22. Overall, this was really boring. I’m glad nothing violent happened. But I was actually moderately disgusted by what I saw, which was a bunch of fat people talking about anti-racism, women’s rights and gays.

    I’m having a hard time understanding what the guns are actually for if these people literally believe in nothing. What you can say for the left is that they at least believe in some vision: a globalist world of hand-holding and anal space communism.

    What do conservatives believe in, besides that they should be able to stockpile firearms in their homes?

    It’s not just an issue of race. It would be nice if these people were aware of *why* they are losing their gun rights (demographic replacement by non-whites), but they could also rally around Christianity or protecting the family or some other belief. If their only belief is in their right to stockpile weapons, and their plan for the future of America is to use the weapons to defend the weapons, then they really are not saying much, are they?

    • “But I was actually moderately disgusted by what I saw, which was a bunch of fat people talking about anti-racism, women’s rights and gays.”

      That seems both specific and worthy:
      — Racism, let’s not; that’s dumb (also evil.)
      — Womens’ rights, let’s do; why wouldn’t people have rights based on their plumbing?
      — Gays (I presume “rights” and similar — if there were anything anti-gay at that rally it would be on tight rotation on every outlet in the country.) Armed gay folk don’t get bashed.

      A pan-cultural utopia is, indeed, a grander vision. How about we get the basics right first: no bashing people because of who tingles their tingly bits; people have the right, meaning we better allow them the means, to protect themselves; the govt is a way for us to coordinate ourselves, to our own advantage: when they become the agenda, that’s a problem.

      Pretty sure the grand utopia won’t work unless n until we get some of the basic stuff righter than we have so far. And the addiction to abstract, imagined visions is just that, an addiction. And an “opiate” “men of action” feed to keep the useful idiots in line, while they do horrible stuff in the name of a bright future that somehow never comes.

      • The rally was about the 2nd Amendment. This is the amendment that protects the others in the Bill of Rights.

    • Andrew, you are crying on a wrong tomb. This is a pro 2A site. We are far from just believing in “right to stockpile weapons”. We also believe in right to carry weapons and to use them for any lawful purposes.
      These rights belong to everyone, color of skin, sexual orientation or identity, religion or thousand other categories you can imagine notwithstanding.

  23. Let’s count the rights violated 1st Amendment: Right to Assemble (they placed significant restrictions on that). 2nd Amendment (barred firearms from the rally). 14th Amendment (not equal protection under the law when the police are enforcing requirements they don’t have to follow). All done in the name of “safety”, their safety while the strip away rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution.

  24. Is it just me or does this article have a distinctly progressive liberal savor to it? If I didn’t know better, I might think it was written by a CNN Journalist. The ending in particular “Our main goal is not to engage with gun extremists today.” Is that what the patriots in VA are? Why is this trash being posted on TTAG?

    • You got their number! This propaganda piece was penned by Alan Suderman and Sarah Rankin, AP as mentioned in its very first line. It clearly shows which way the Ass. Press leans.

  25. White are white supremacists mentioned in conjunction with law-abiding citizens in this article? We are not synonymous!

    • How are white supremacists not law abiding?

      I welcome white supremacy. In countries with Arab or Black supremacy, you get barabrianism. Why shouldn’t whites be supreme in their own countries?

      I’m ok with Han Being supreme in China. Why can’t whites be in charge of the US?

  26. I have been sitting here for years wondering why the president doesn’t use his power to reinstitute the constitution as it was written in full. Not the amended constitution but the full constitution. What people are forgetting is the simple fact that any law or amendments against the constitution is in itself illegal. Like the gun registration act or the nfa or background checks. Any of it. So maybe the president should get his ass in gear and do his duty. Just a thought.

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