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What They’re Saying: January 20 Gun Extremist Rally in Richmond, Virginia

January 21, 2020

Yesterday, gun extremists – including out-of-state militia groups – descended on Richmond, hoping to intimidate lawmakers into ignoring the will of their constituents who elected a gun sense majority in November. Meanwhile, more than 100 volunteers with Moms Demand Action from Virginia and 23 states made nearly 3,000 calls on Monday alone, connecting Virginia voters with their legislators to thank them for supporting common-sense gun safety legislation. See coverage highlights below:

The Wall Street Journal: Thousands of Pro-Gun Advocates Rally in Virginia

“State and local police agencies worked together to tighten security ahead of the rally. Officials sought to avoid a repeat of the violence and chaos at a 2017 white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. A woman was killed when an avowed neo-Nazi drove into a crowd of counterprotesters. The driver is serving a life sentence in prison.

A local branch of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence canceled its own protest planned for Monday in Capitol Square due to fears of violence. “Common sense gun laws don’t impede anyone’s constitutional rights. They save lives.” said Robyn Sordelett, a gun owner who volunteers with the Virginia chapter of the gun-control advocacy group Moms Demand Action.”

Mother Jones: Virginia’s Massive Pro-Gun Rally Draws Big Crowds, Big Weapons, and Alex Jones in a Big Armored Vehicle

“I think that their intimidation tactics are a way to scare us into backing down,” said Courtney Champion, a volunteer with the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Despite the threats of violence, Champion, along with a few other Moms Demand Action volunteers were in a hotel room a few blocks from the rally where they closely monitored the day’s events. “I think that a lot of the pushback that we’re getting right now is because we flipped our state’s legislature in the NRA’s backyard,” she added, “and they know that we’re winning.” 

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Amid gun-rights rally, some speak out for gun control

“Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, two national gun control advocacy groups, stayed away from the fray, but mobilized 100 volunteers to make at least 2,300 calls to Virginia lawmakers, thanking them for supporting gun control legislation, according to organizers.

“It’s everyone’s right to go to the Capitol and speak to their legislators and share their opinions, but when extremists descend on the Capitol and prevent other people from participating and exercising their right as voters, that’s really discouraging to see,’  said Kristin DuMont, community outreach lead for Moms Demand Action Richmond.”

Virginia Public Media: Moms Demand Action: ‘Gun Safety is Winning’

“Gun safety groups call the massive gun rally Monday on Capitol Square a last-ditch intimidation tactic to scare lawmakers out of passing new gun laws
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said the event, which is held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, is “offensive” and “bizarre.”

“What we will see on Monday is really just a very vocal minority,” she said. “Their views are not representative of the majority of Virginians. In fact, many aren’t from Virginia.”

CBS6 Richmond: Moms Demand Action leader: ‘Virginians overwhelmingly support gun safety laws’

“But, while the events were cancelled, Champion, along with several other members of Moms Demand Action, a group that advocates for stronger gun laws, were watching Monday’s events from a hotel room a few blocks from the State Capitol.
“Virginians overwhelmingly support gun safety laws, like gun safety checks and red flag laws. Polling shows its. The fact that a record number of people voted in November and gun violence prevention was their top issue, kind of, proves that point for us,” added Champion. “I want lawmakers to know that even after today, Moms Demand Action volunteers will keep doing what we’ve been doing and that is the un-glamorous heavy-lifting advocacy work that got them elected and we’ll continue to hold them accountable.”

Last week, Virginia’s Senate passed several common-sense gun safety bills, including bipartisan legislation to close dangerous gaps in Virginia’s background check laws. This week, the Virginia General Assembly is expected to consider red flag legislation, which allows loved ones and law enforcement to temporarily remove firearms from people in crisis.

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