NBS Outdoor Fall Issue 2020

they need to easily connect with their elected representatives and stand for their rights.” Politicians took notice. By January, Virginia added more than 130 Second Amendment sanctuary localities to the list, nearly tripling the number nationwide. More than 96% of the Commonwealth’s localities told Richmond they would not enforce what they see as unconstitutional gun laws by passing Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions. Membership in gun-rights organizations in Virginia and nationwide tripled. Average gun owners had become activists. VCDL President Philip Van Cleave estimates that more than 105,000 gun owners showed up to speak in favor of Second Amendment sanctuaries. The turn out at some board meetings grew from an average of 30 to more than 4,000 vying to speak. VCDL tripled its membership in six weeks. VCDL has held a lobby day every January since 2003. Historically, a couple hundred

gun owners have attended. On a cold Monday in January, 2020, tens of thousands of gun owners from around the country packed the streets around the Richmond state capitol grounds. Buses poured into the Virginia capitol by the dozens. Prominent gun rights advocates flew in to speak. The hero of Sutherland Springs, Stephen Willeford, whose AR-15 stopped the gunman who took the lives of 26 worshipers and left 20 more wounded at a Texas owners from around the country packed the streets around the Richmond capitol grounds. ” “ ... tens of thousands of gun

church in 2017, rallied the crowd. Antonia Okafor of Campus Carry discussed the importance of grassroots activism. It was a peaceful event that attracted national and international media attention. Other state grassroots organizations, including Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL), sent delegations to Virginia’s Lobby Day. According to CCDL President Holly Sullivan, Virginia was a springboard to increasing gun rights activism. “State organizations can’t exist in a silo. What happens in other states must be on our radars so we can be prepared if we face similar legislation. The Connecticut Citizens Defense League stood in absolute solidarity with Virginia gun owners, and we’re proud of the CCDL members The Lobby Day rally and gun owner attendance at local board meetings made a difference. Hundreds of e-mails and phone calls to state representatives who stood in support of our VCDL brothers and sisters.”

12 • NBS OUTDOOR • Fall 2020

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