Gun debate draws hundreds to capitol

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It may have been a state holiday, but it was still busy at the state capitol. Hundreds of Virginians rallied today with messages for lawmakers.

Many of them woke up very early, and traveled from all corners of Virginia to be here on what's called "protest day", "lobby day", or "advocacy day", depending on whom you ask. And the big protest dealt with guns.

In a not-so-subtle sign that the party is over, crews today began tearing down the stage where Bob McDonnell was sworn-in just 48-hours earlier. But that didn't keep people from packing the rest of the capitol grounds to fight for their beliefs. With a re-enactor leading the way, tea party patriots, and gun supporters like John Allen said they want to expand gun rights.

"We would also like to see students who have concealed handgun permits to be allowed to conceal-carry on campus. That's a big one for us," said Allen.

John and fellow advocates, would appear to have strength in numbers. A morning rally drew hundreds. Far more than an afternoon prayer service in favor of more "gun control."

Jonathan Jones is 20 years old, and lost a friend in a shooting. He joined people with ties to Virginia Tech, who said loosening gun laws, would ignore the loss of 800 Virginians a year, to gun violence.

"I've seen people shot. I've seen people killed. I've seen people lose loved ones, crippled and maimed.  And people still say guns save lives. I just want to know, what lives were saved?" said Jones.

With republican Bob McDonnell now in office, gun supporters believe momentum is on their side. But first - house and senate leaders will debate at least six bills on the subject, and it's unclear which ones will pass.

If certain bills pass, Virginians would be able to buy a greater number of guns per month, conceal-carry on campuses and restaurants, and face a lesser penalty if caught with a gun on school property.

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