Groups hold events on gun control debate

Groups hold events on gun control debate
Source: NBC12

(WWBT) - Two Central Virginia groups held events on the gun control debate on Saturday.

In Petersburg, a church met to address the city's recent uptick in gun violence.

Meanwhile, in Richmond, a rally was held at the bell tower in an effort to oppose nationwide pushes for gun control.

It may sound like an unorthodox approach, but the message could not be more clear.

Chief Apostle Mary Bonner of the Harvest International Full Baptist Center put on an outdoor service in response to the three homicides in just the last two weeks in Petersburg.

"Do we count enough? Do we count? It's not the gun. It's the bullet that needs to disintegrate. It's the bullet that will go off for a bullet that has no name," said Bonner.

Bonner believes that the best way to stop the violence in Petersburg is by putting hands together in prayer as a non-violent weapon.

But 25 miles away, there's a clear divide in that thinking at the Gun Rights Rally in Richmond.  Hundreds gathered to celebrate their second amendment rights.

Phillip Van Cleave, President of The Virginia Citizens Defense League, organized the rally in effort counter the push for gun control following the Parkland massacre in February.

"If you've got a bad actor, it's the human being that's the problem. Here a gun, a piece of metal it's like being afraid of a parked car. No, I'm afraid of the parked car with a drunk driver behind it," said Van Cleave.

Van Cleave says that while there is danger in freedom, he and the hundreds who gathered at the Capitol Bell Tower, are willing to accept those consequences if it means protecting their second amendment rights.

"There is a little danger in being free because you don't have police everywhere. We're not a police state. I'll take that freedom. As long as I have a right to protect myself, I'm fine," said Van Cleave.

"All of us have a concern about the violence. Let the guns go and pray for the bullets," said Bonner.

"If you're going to say a prayer, say a prayer for these bad guys that they will change their hearts and stop and not want to harm or kill or rape or murder anymore. When that stops, it won't matter who's got guns," said Van Cleave.

The next school walkout in response to the deadly Florida shooting is scheduled for Friday, April 20.

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