Both sides of gun debate lobby lawmakers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Monday was a busy day at the state capitol, where advocates on both sides of the gun issue lobbied lawmakers. Those wanting legislation to prevent gun violence and those wanting to protect their second amendment rights made their presence known.

They not only demonstrated outside the General Assembly Building, but went inside to speak to lawmakers one-on-one. Despite their differences on the issue, there didn't seem to be any clashes between those two groups Monday.

They created a stark contrast at the capitol. Outside the GA Building, gun rights advocates displayed large rifles. Just about 100 yards away, another group prayed for an end to gun violence and held hearts symbolizing the victims taken in 2012.

Peter Read's daughter was killed in the Virginia Tech massacre. He's attended this vigil every year since her death.

"As a family you learn to live around that empty place, but you never move on," he explained.

Read and other advocates hope a new governor will make this year different for the issues they're backing, including universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole and limiting the size of ammunition magazines.

"What we hope is to see is that bills that make it easier for the wrong people to get a hold of firearms don't pass and that the bills that would keep them out of the hands of the wrong kinds of people will pass," Read added.

But former soldier and gun owner Jeff Kleb says more gun control laws won't fix the problems.

"What they're not telling you is that it would require a background check for me to pass a gun down to my son or it's also a backdoor way of establishing a registry, where they can register all gun owners, which eventually will lead to confiscation," he explained.

Kleb believes the other side needs a change of perspective.

"We as law-biding gun owners are not the problem," he maintained. "More gun control laws will not work and that they need to think of things logically, not emotionally."

Now the question becomes, how will the general assembly move forward.

"There is common ground to be found here and it is my hope that we will have the courage to move toward it," Attorney General Mark Herring told the crowd.

The lieutenant governor and first lady of Virginia, along with several lawmakers also attended Monday's vigil.

In 2012 statistics show 822 Virginians were killed by gunfire. The numbers for 2013 are not available just yet.

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