Gun rights, gun control advocates rally for change

Gun rights, gun control advocates rally for change
U.S. congressman Dave Brat (Source: NBC12)
U.S. congressman Dave Brat (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Gun rights and gun control advocates rallied for change on Monday at the Virginia State Capitol. It was all a part of lobby day, also known as advocacy day when community members and organizations meet politicians at various levels of government to advocate and explain support for legislation relevant to them.

First, dozens of gun rights advocates, including the Virginia Citizens Defense League, rallied creating a sea of orange, with their orange "Guns save lives" stickers.

"We've got a lot of gun bills that will improve things for gun owners," Philip VanCleave, the President of Virginia Citizens Defense League said.

VanCleave said the rally was about supporting people's Second Amendment rights. He also says his organization presented seven bills to local lawmakers, some of which are now being proposed.

"Senator Black is putting in constitutional carry for us right now in Virginia," VanCleave said. "You can openly carry a gun without any permit or anything, that's constitutional carry. His bill would extend that to concealed carry."

Hours after gun rights advocates expressed their views at the state capitol, pro-gun reform and gun violence prevention advocates had their turn, turning the state capitol into a sea of yellow. The yellow were stickers the folks in attendance were wearing that stated, "Background checks save lives."

This event was hosted by the Virginia Center for Public Safety. Lori Haas, with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, also serves on the board for VCPS.

"We want universal background checks, we want people who exhibited violent and dangerous behavior to be prohibited from easy access to firearms," Haas said. "We want for our children to be kept safe, our neighborhoods to be kept safe."

Haas said her organization is following 76 bills this legislative session.

"We're not targeting lawful gun owners, we are targeting people who are prohibited by law," Haas said.

Politicians were also out in full force for both sides, including U.S. congressman Dave Brat and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.

"It's really important that we come together to show support for common sense measures to keep communities safe from gun violence," Herring said.

"Today we're here on the Second Amendment, freedom and right to bear arms," Brat said. "Whenever you look at big government stuff, whenever the government gets too big the first things they go after are the guns and your freedom."

The last day to introduce legislation for the 2017 session is this Friday, Jan. 20.

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