Gun safety advocates avoid rally, but call lawmakers to push for legislation

Gun safety groups push fro "common sense" laws

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - While many pro-gun supporters descended on the State Capitol, many gun-safety advocates remained far away but still pushed for tougher gun legislation.

Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action spoke to media members Monday afternoon issuing several comments following the rally in Richmond.

“Today, more than 100 Moms Demand Action volunteers from Virginia and 24 other states made at least 2,300 calls to thank Virginia lawmakers for their dedication to gun safety and encourage them to continue passing common-sense legislation,” a press release stated.

While there was no violence that broke out at the State Capitol, some members of this group feel misinformation and fear is what fuels their opposing groups.

“I feel like there were a lot of extremists, many of them not even from Virginia, who descended on the Capitol today,” said Virginia Moms Demand Action volunteer Courtney Champion. “I’m glad that it was peaceful today but leading up to this event there were arrests made, credible threats of danger and there were people who I definitely would consider extremist. The fact that all the gun violence prevention groups felt like it wouldn’t be safe to attend today speaks for itself.”

Virginia Moms Demand Action stayed clear of the grounds of the statehouse but did show support for gun safety bills that have been filed.

This group believes the outcome of the November election is a sign that Virginians want gun safety measures put in place across the Commonwealth.

“Moms Demand Action is focused on laws that are proven to save lives,” Champion said. “We’ve seen laws in other states help keep citizens safer and are continually upheld to be Constitutional.”

“Those at the rally in Richmond today do not represent the views of responsible gun owners — in fact, they stand for the polar opposite,” said volunteer and gun owner Robyn Sordelett. “Common sense gun laws don't impede anyone’s constitutional rights. They save lives.”

“Virginians voted, they sent the message in November,” said gun violence survivor Lisette Johnson.

Lisette Johnson has worked with gun violence prevention groups for eight years. She stayed away from the pro-gun rally Monday due to her own personal experience with gun violence.

“When I was trying to leave a verbally abusive marriage, my husband who was a legal gun owner did threaten to kill me if I tried to leave the marriage,” Johnson said. “He did follow through; he shot me four times in front of our children and then he took his own life.”

"We have survivors of gun violence and I think that it is completely unfair to expose them to people walking around with guns when it could potentially re-traumatize them," Champion said.

Johnson believes the public opinion on gun safety has changed over the last decade and feels the momentum is rolling in terms of different legislation.

“We’re ready for some safe laws to protect people from experiencing what I experienced and not just me - my kids,” Johnson said.

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