Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Second Amendment Supporters Rally at Capitol

Gun control advocate Lori Haas attended Monday's rally.

Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, was also in attendance.

Listen to the full story here

It would seem Second Amendment defenders are on a roll these days. The Supreme Court has given two recent favorable opinions; one ended local government bans on handgun possession and another interpreted the Second Amendment to give individuals, not just militias, the unequivocal right to keep and bear arms.

Still, Second Amendment supporters, preparing for an April 19 march on Washington, rallied Monday afternoon at the Old Bell Tower in the Capitol complex.

Philip Van Cleave is president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, and believes too many of us are ignorant of how and why government infringes upon the Second Amendment.

“It was infringed largely, after the Civil War, to control minorities,” Cleave said. “A lot of people don’t realize that gun control has a pretty bad history.”

To which Richmond March organizer Chris Richardson added, quoting Senator Orrin Hatch, “'If gun laws in fact worked, the sponsors of this type of legislation should have no difficulty drawing upon long lists of examples of crime rates reduced by such legislation. That they cannot do so after a century and a half of trying, that they must sweep under the rug the Southern attempts at gun control in the 1870 – 1910 period, the Northeastern attempts in the 1920 – 1939 period, and the attempts at both federal and state levels from 1965 to 1976 establishes the repeated, complete and inevitable failure of gun laws to control crime.'”

In the crowd of about 150, counter-demonstrators were few and far between. One who was willing to speak to the media is Lori Haas. She represents a number of gun control groups, and her daughter was wounded in the Virginia Tech massacre.

Her daughter has recovered, graduated and begun a teaching career, but Haas says, “I think that the victims of gun violence are underrepresented, and frankly I think our lawmakers should listen to them more. The pain and suffering from gun violence is unacceptable in a society as smart as ours and as legitimate as ours and as democratic as ours. What gun control laws are meant to do is keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those who have been adjudicated mentally ill; people who shouldn’t have them. I would like to think that everybody in this audience and at this protest today is a law-abiding citizen, and I’m sure they are, and if they are, [they have the right] to own a gun. It’s those who shouldn’t have a gun we worry about."

“I’m not offended by the Second Amendment," Haas said. "My husband and children went target-shooting this weekend. We spent the weekend at the family farm, target-shooting. So it’s not a mutually exclusive issue for me. I’d just like to do more to save victims from gun violence.”

Wayne Hall drove in from Nottoway to attend the rally. He said sometimes the difference between gun control advocates and supporters of gun rights has to do with where one lives.

“You go in Richmond and you’ll see a business that says ‘Diners’ Club,’ ‘MasterCard,’ ‘Visa,’" Hall said. "Up there it’ll be the same, but there’ll be an NRA [sticker] below that. It’s a different atmosphere, you’ve got the fox in the hen house and now, coyotes are a real problem.”

The featured speaker was Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. He told the crowd defense of Constitutional rights should be inclusive of all the amendments, not just those currently popular with the majority.

“It is a lot more effective to change your elected than to change your electeds’ minds,” he said. “Change them out. Hire people of whatever party who respect the Constitution, who respect the boundaries of government power.”

-Brad Fulton and Mark Dorroh

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