With gun rally concluded, both sides weigh in on effectiveness of demonstrations

Updated: Jan. 20, 2020 at 11:03 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Hours after the 18th annual Lobby Day Gun Rally at Capitol Square ended, demonstrators on both sides of the debate have already begun weighing in on the effectiveness of the demonstrations.

People like Jefferey Hopkins who came all the way from Massachusetts hope the number of Second Amendment supporters will make Virginia lawmakers think twice about gun reform legislation.

“My wife and I drove over eight hours to show that the whole country is in supporting Virginia and Virginians in their Second Amendment rights,” said Jeffery Hopkins. “I’m hoping people realize that gun owners are not violent people and we don’t want our hands to be tied when it comes to the protection of our loved ones.”

The event’s organizer, Philip Van Cleave with the Virginia Citizens Defense League, called the gun rally a success saying that he was pleased with the event and that the Second Amendment supporters “were a group of people whose voices were heard.”

But major players on the other side of the gun debate like gun reform activist Andy Parker say their voices were louder.

“There was an election in November and the people spoke and they want common-sense legislation,” said Parker.

Parker became an activist after his daughter WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward were shot and killed during a live shot in 2015. He believes that despite the fanfare from Lobby Day, the minds of the General Assembly will remain largely unchanged.

“Once they see that these laws are going to get passed and their world is not going to come to an end and lives are going to be saved, I think they’ll come around to our point of view," said Parker.

“You cannot deny the number of people that were here in support of the Second Amendment,” said Hopkins. “It’s not just Virginians and people in Virginia it’s going to affect. It’s going to affect the whole country.”

Governor Ralph Northam said in a statement on Monday that he’s thankful the day passed without incident and it showed that when people disagree, they can do it peacefully.

He also went on to say he will continue to listen to the voices of Virginians and do everything in his power to keep the commonwealth safe.

Just hours after the conclusion of Monday’s historic Lobby Day gun rally, which drew out over 22,000 demonstrators from all over the country, the streets in large part quickly cleared of ralliers.

Though several barricades surrounding the perimeter of the state Capitol remain, the most visible security measures have been scaled back. Richmond and Capitol Police could be seen leaving their posts as street crews cleared away some of the barricades that were blocking off streets along Grace Street and 9th Street in Richmond.

The State of Emergency at the Virginia State Capitol will remain in effect until 5 p.m. Tuesday, which means weapon restrictions and some barricades will remain until that time.

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