A gun-control event at the Virginia state capitol drew 200 activists on Wednesday, a turnout dwarfed by the tens of thousands who have attended Second Amendment sanctuary meetings all over the state.
Moms Demand Action, a subsidiary of Michael Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety, gathered supporters in Richmond to pressure lawmakers into passing stricter gun-control laws during the new legislative session. An email to the group's supporters included pictures showing several dozen activists at a meeting opening, and about 20 meeting with lawmakers and walking the halls of the Virginia state capitol building. A spokeswoman for the group told the Washington Free Beacon that 200 volunteers showed up to lobby lawmakers.
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The gun-control group's lobbying effort comes after pro-gun rights Virginians turned out across the state over two months to demand their municipalities become Second Amendment sanctuaries. Such sanctuaries would oppose new state gun legislation and refuse to enforce any laws that might pass. These events have seen thousands packing county meetings, organizers told the Free Beacon, far outnumbering Moms Demand Action's turnout. One hundred twenty-five localities have passed pro-gun resolutions, including 91 of the state's 95 counties.
The apparent strength of the pro-gun rights contingent will be put to the test at upcoming events in Richmond organized by the NRA and the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL). If these events see greater turnout than Moms Demand Action's, it could sway enough of the newly elected Democrats in the party's slim legislative majority to block some of the proposals pushed by Governor Ralph Northam (D.).
Moms Demand Action decried the sanctuary movement as the work of "gun extremists" who "do not represent the views of responsible gun owners and the majority of Virginians." But the movement's legislative success, driven by sizable statewide turnouts, seems to suggest otherwise.
VCDL estimated more than 1,000 attendees at sanctuary meetings in Shenandoah, Augusta, Floyd, Spotsylvania, Prince William, Smyth, Bedford, Rockingham, Russell, and Chesterfield counties, and in the cities of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. The Free Beacon witnessed more than 2,000 pro-gun attendees at Fauquier County's sanctuary meeting. Even Fairfax County, one of four deep-blue counties not to pass a sanctuary resolution, had more than 350 pro-gun residents attend a recent board meeting to lobby against new gun-control laws.
Upcoming gun-rights events at the state capitol building could also draw large crowds. The Facebook event for the NRA's effort to turn out supporters at the first meeting of the state senate's courts of justice committee on January 13 has nearly 9,000 people listed as going or interested in going. VCDL has booked more than 20 buses for the group's public rally on January 20 and estimates tens of thousands will attend.
Moms Demand Action said the Wednesday event resulted in more than 70 meetings with elected officials. The group said its advocacy would focus on three initiatives: universal background check legislation H.B. 2, red-flag legislation H.B. 674, and $2.6 million in increased funding in the state budget for "city gun violence prevention and intervention programs."
The group did not list support for either the "assault firearms" confiscation bill S.B. 16 or the newly introduced "assault firearms" ban-and-registration bill H.B. 961. Those bills have been among the most controversial proposals introduced by Democrats since they captured control of the state legislature in November 2019.