RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY/WRIC) — Local gun rights activists traveled to Richmond Monday for Lobby Day 2021.
Caravans “rolling for the 2a” — that being the Second Amendment — went to Richmond to express their concerns to legislators on what is known as Lobby Day. The day typically falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day because people have time off from work so they can go lobby. It also falls near the start of the legislative session.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL), a gun-rights group, attended the event which they have held since 2002.
Last year, 22,000 people showed up to Lobby Day, many of them armed, and it was a peaceful gathering. This year, VCDL planned a COVID-19 friendly demonstration, opting for a caravan of cars into the city. Van Cleave also said the gathering was denied a permit even before the Capitol went on high alert.
“What we’re doing is basically lobbying the General Assembly with a rolling caravan,” explained VCDL President Philip Van Cleave. “This is America. You have a right to be free and you have a right to protect your life.”
There were four main caravans, coming from Fairfax, Emporia, Staunton and Hampton.
BELOW: Chopper 10 flies over Lobby Day events in Richmond on Jan. 18, 2021.
10 On Your Side stopped by the Hampton caravan as they met before heading to the Capitol. Around 100 cars gathered near the Hampton Coliseum, decked out with banners, flags and stickers voicing support for gun rights.
“I’m an avid hunter, I’m an avid shooter, and I’m here to ask that those rights be continued and not denied. I hope we’re effective, I hope we’re peaceful,” said Yorktown resident Frank Grimm.
Once in Richmond, the cars drove down Broad Street, hoping to gain the attention of lawmakers.
“There’s no other animal on earth other than a human that disarms itself,” said Van Cleave. “Have you ever heard of a gazelle taking its horns off before it goes somewhere?”
VCDL says their lobbying efforts have been effective in the past.
Although this year there is less to lobby against compared to last year. For the 2021 session, only seven gun control bills are introduced compared with around 60 bills for the 2020 session.
This year, each legislature could only introduce seven bills each.
The previous week, the FBI issued a serious warning that all 50 state capitals over the next few weeks are at risk for attacks that are similar to the insurrection that took place at the Capitol Building on January 6.
Virginia politics and policy reporter Graham Moomaw for the Virginia Mercury shared photos of the event on the social media.
Also on Monday, members claiming to be from both the Proud Boys group and BLM757/Black Panther arrived at the scene in Richmond.
Richmond police posted signs in advance of events surrounding Lobby Day 2021 reminding people that firearms are prohibited at permitted events and events that would otherwise require a permit, as well as in adjacent public areas.
Capitol Square in Richmond is fenced, windows boarded up and signs remind people no guns are allowed.