Virginians aren’t giving up their Second Amendment rights without a fight. Local media coverage of six roundtable discussions hosted by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s deputies indicates that the governor’s anti-gun policies aren’t sitting as well with his constituents as he no doubt hoped.
The governor, most famous recently for appearing in a yearbook photo wearing blackface, called for the roundtable discussions leading up to a special legislative session to address “gun violence” in the wake of a Virginia Beach massacre that left 12 people dead.
The roundtables were held across the state and were led by Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran, Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, and Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine.
The overall tenor of the discussions is difficult to parse via local coverage, but nearly every article mentions gun rights activists showing up and speaking out. The attendees at the roundtable in Abingdon, Va., were especially upset at the gun control proposals to be considered during the special session.
SEE ALSO: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam Calls for Special Session to Ban Suppressors, Assault Weapons and More
The roundtable began with the recital of the Second Amendment and, apparently, got better from there.
“You are chipping away at people’s gun rights,” a woman told Moran, according to the Roanoke Times.
“This is confiscation without representation,” another man said about extreme risk protection orders, one of Northam’s proposals. “What you’re proposing is not about guns, it’s about control.”
The Times reports that the crowd rebuked Northam for being a “liberal” and for exploiting tragedy for political gain.
“Out in this part of Virginia, we’re not going to stand for it,” one man told Moran.
Republican State Sen. Ben Chafin was also in attendance, and he characterized Northam’s special session as a “political stunt” and vowed to “oppose every single thing you got.”
The crowd in Abingdon was reacting to a slate of gun control proposals Northam asked the legislature to consider, including universal background checks; a ban on “assault weapons,” to include suppressors and bump stocks; an extreme risk protective order; and reinstating the one-gun-a-month law, among others.
Moran felt the room’s hostility but maintained his claim that none of Northam’s anti-gun proposals would hamper Second Amendment rights.
“Clearly the majority of this room felt that we were trying to take their right to defend and their Second Amendment rights away,” said Moran, according to WJHL. “None of these pieces of legislation takes their right to defend themselves away.”
The Republicans control both chambers by narrow margins, so the success of Northam’s strategy is anything but certain. It’s also true, as Second Amendment Foundation Founder Alan Gottlieb noted in USA Today, that not one of the governor’s proposals would have prevented the massacre in Virginia Beach.
What’s more, the folks in Abingdon aren’t alone in their opposition. Gun rights supporters also showed up to the other roundtable discussions.
Sheila Furey, a psychiatrist, argued at a discussion in Richmond that firearms training for women could help them defend against domestic violence, according to the Richmond-Times Dispatch. She also doesn’t believe police can be trusted to stop mass shootings in schools.
“We should train everyone in our schools to use a gun … and be competent with a gun,” she said, “because this is how we save our children.”
At another roundtable in Fredericksburg, long-time gun owner Jim Price told Fredericksburg.com that he doesn’t believe Gov. Northam is acting in good faith.
“I want to see those freedoms preserved that our Virginia forefathers sacrificed their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honors for,” said Price. “I assume with Gov. Northam calling a special session on July 9, that there must be some leanings, or some backdoor deals that have already been made.”
Perhaps the most incisive comment came from Bobby Howard at the Abingdon roundtable, who worried that the government will “chip away” at gun rights “one right at a time, until they actually really get somebody hurt because they can’t protect themselves.”
Since the Virginia Beach massacre, officials have learned that one of the victims, Kate Nixon, wanted to bring her handgun to work because of her concern that one of her coworkers might be dangerous. She decided against it due to the city’s gun-free zone policy. The next day, that coworker killed her along with 11 other people.
Nixon’s family is calling for a full investigation.