RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Gun rights supporters have more ammunition in this year's General Assembly. The newfound Republican control of both the House and Senate provides a clearer path for gun-friendly bills.
But while gun rights supporters arrived at the Capitol's "Lobby Day" with momentum, gun control advocates urged caution.
36 gun-related bills are on the table...many of which would ease restrictions; repealing one-gun-a-month, for example. Bills that once died in a democratic Senate now stand a better chance of passing under Republican control, including the one that would make it less of a crime if Mike Harrell left his concealed-carry permit at home.
"Think of Gestapo Germany, you know, "Where's your papers!" You know, if you don't have a little piece of paper with you that says you have a conceal carry permit, you face a felony charge," Harrell said.
But, later in the same spot, a smaller, though no less dedicated crowd. Solemn victims and families of the Virginia Tech shootings and other gun crimes urged lawmakers to keep -or make- Virginia's laws tougher, like closing the so-called "gun show loophole".
"They want common sense gun laws in place that don't take the guns out of the hands of responsible, law- abiding gun owner, that keep the guns out of dangerous individuals," said gun control supporter Christian Heyne.
Control advocates will lie down for the victims of gun crimes. But not -they say- for the uphill battle they face inside the Capitol.
Even the ones with momentum know nothing is certain, yet.
"Really, you never know. Some people flip flop in their votes. We're always pushing toward the 2nd amendments rights being extended to more and more people," said Daniel Dorer, a gun rights supporter.
All of the bills under consideration are still in committee. They won't likely come up for a full vote for at least another month. Bills in the Senate could be split 20-20 along party lines, but Republicans own the tie-breaking vote of the Lieutenant Governor.