By Denise Lavoie, Associated Press
More than 200 gun rights activists wearing “Guns SAVE Lives” stickers rallied Monday in Virginia, vowing to fight any attempt by the new Democratic majority in the state legislature to pass new restrictions on gun ownership.
The “God. Family. Guns” rally was held just a month before the General Assembly is set to begin a session that is almost certain to include a variety of gun control proposals, including requiring universal background checks for gun buyers, prohibiting the sale of assault weapons and a ‘”red flag” law allowing police or family members to petition a court to temporarily take away guns from people who may present a danger to themselves or others.
Those who attended the rally said such gun-control measures would do little to reduce mass shootings and other crimes, but instead would punish responsible gun owners.
“Hands off our guns, hands off our rights, and hands off our guns,” said Bob Good, a member of the Campbell County Board of Supervisors.
Good said he hoped the rally would send a message to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and state lawmakers to stop them from passing laws with “unconstitutional gun restrictions.”
The rally was held at the State Capitol as officials in dozens of Virginia counties pass resolutions declaring themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries.” Good said Campbell County was the second county in the state to pass such a resolution. Since Democrats won majorities in the state Senate and House of Delegates in November, more than 40 localities have voted for sanctuary status, which they say amounts to a pledge to refuse to enforce any unconstitutional gun laws.
Bob Sadtler, 51, of Richmond, said he attended the rally because he treasures the Second Amendment and is concerned that the laws proposed by Democratic lawmakers will hurt legitimate gun owners but do nothing to stop violent crime.
“In America, you do not punish everyone for the acts of the individual,” he said. “These bills don’t affect criminals. Criminals ignore the law.”
Gun-control proposals in Virginia have failed in the past under the Republican-controlled legislature.
Democrats revived their call for gun restrictions in May, after a city employee shot and killed 12 of his co-workers at a municipal building in Virginia Beach. After the shooting, Northam scheduled a special legislative session on gun control measures. Republicans quickly ended the session and accused the governor of trying to use the tragedy for political gain.